Council move could still impact Irish Cement's Limerick plans

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick@limerickleader.ie

Council move could still impact Irish Cement's Limerick plans

Hundreds of people took part in a public protest against the plans last year

A COUNCIL decision to pass five orders aimed at stopping incineration type developments in Limerick could still impact Irish Cement’s €10m plans for Mungret.

That’s according to Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler, who believes that if the plans go to a judicial review in the High Court, changes to local development plans could be taken into account.

Controversial proposals will see Irish Cement switch away from the use of fossil fuels in favour of used tyres and solid recovered waste.​

But the blueprint – currently before An Bord Pleanala and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – has been opposed by thousands of locals, with fears of an increase in emissions into the atmosphere chief among the concerns.

Irish Cement has always insisted its reforms will not cause such an increase, due to the fact tyres and waste will be burnt at 1,500 degrees celsius.

This week, five motions from Cllr James Collins, Fianna Fail, were passed unanimously by councillors. Among these are a stipulation the local area plan rules out the incineration of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste – and the southern region waste management plan also be altered to reflect this.

While council boss Conn Murray pledged to seek legal advice on whether he could carry these orders out, the hope of members is that similar developments to Irish Cement’s will be stopped.

It has been claimed that because Irish Cement’s application was granted under the current development plan, it will be unaffected by these changes. But Cllr Butler said “not necessarily” when asked if he felt this would be the case.

He suggested in the event of the environmental regulator and An Bord Pleanala waving the controversial plans through, Limerick Against Pollution (LAP), which was set up in opposition to the plans, could launch a judicial review.

The only barrier to this would be cost. “We've put forward a strong case, and if successful, it could play a hugely significant part in rejecting the Irish Cement application,” he said.

Cllr Collins for his part, employed fighting talk when speaking on his motions.

“People want us to do everything they can to ensure the Irish Cement development does not happen in their community. I suppose the main message is we are serious about prohibiting the incineration of waste in Limerick. We’re not going to take no for an answer. If there are obstacles which are put i our way whether thy are statutory legal, or otherwise, we're going to do everything in our power to overcome those,” he said.

Cllr Butler gave a cautious welcome to the passing of his colleague’s motions.

“It's positive we can try and advance this. We will be subject to legal advice. As it stands, it would seem we are contrary to national policy and we may be overruled. This is what we're expecting,” he added.

A spokesperson for Mr Murray said: “The waste management plan supercedes the local development plan. The chief executive cannot do something which is deemed not legal by a superior plan. The councillors asked for legal advice, so he is going to seek it.”