RESIDENTS opposed to the development of a waste to energy gasification plant at the former landfill site at Gortadroma have vowed to continue their campaign.
“We are here for the long haul,” a spokeswoman said this week on behalf of RAGE, the Residents against Gasification in the Environment.
But they have expressed bitter disappointment at a council decision to again defer a motion calling for an independent quantitative risk assessment to be carried out.
The motion was first proposed by Fine Gael leader, Cllr John Sheahan last July but deferrred to allow legal advice to be sought.
However, when Cllr Sheahan asked for an update at last week’s meeting of Limerick City and County Council, council chief executive Conn Murray said he hadn’t yet received the legal advice.
The motion was deferred again but Cllr Sheahan urged Mr Murray to “pull out all the stops to get legal advice to us as soon as possible.”
“People need to find out,” Cllr Richard O’Donoghue (FF) added.
“We are hugely disappointed at this outcome,” said Mary O’Connor, who as secretary of RAGE, attended the council meeting along with other members of the group. “We were not given a time frame as to when Mr Murray expected to receive the legal advice or any other information. We willingly gave up our time and sat there in the public viewing gallery for three hours waiting for this.
“As citizens of this parish we feel that it is time that the council executive took a more inclusive approach towards the people whose lives would be touched by this issue,” Ms O’Connor continued. “So far public consultation has been almost entirely absent throughout the process and given recent turnouts at the public meetings in Shanagolden it is high time Conn Murray extended to us all the courtesy of inclusive communications about the status and intent around the proposals for Gortadroma.”
“Nobody wants to live near a gasification plant,” Ms O’Connor claimed. And there is huge determination to oppose the development from progressing.
“We are not giving up on this and we are here for the long haul,” she said. The group has now formed a committee, and is organising a series of information meetings to let people know what is involved in the gasification plant proposals. The group is also fund-raising to pay for professional help in their campaign of opposition.
But they have welcomed a statement from Senator James Heffernan, a general election candidate with the newly formed Social Democrats party, calling on the council to revoke the land lease signed earlier this year with Cadence EnvironPower, CEP.
“The handling of this issue has been a shambles from the get go,” Senator Heffernan said – and he criticised the council’s response to residents’ concerns as abysmal.
“There had been no proper consultation done and the contracts with CEP had been rushed through in his opinion. I don’t think that this is the type of investment that Limerick needs,” he said. “I struggle to see where gasification and incineration fit into Ireland’s 2020 environmental targets.”
The lease signed with CEP involves some 14 hectares of land at Gortadroma where CEP is proposing to build a gasification plant at a cost of €145m which would take in 1,000 tonnes of waste per day, including about 45 tonnes of waste tyres.
Gasification converts waste matter into gas using a heat process. This process is potentially more efficient than incineration, the company claims, and produces 100 times less emissions.
CEP has said the plant would generate a total of 36 mega-Watts of power and would employ about 180 people when fully operational.
When the matter was first raised at a meeting of Adare Rathkeale councillors this time last year, councillors were told that CEP were proposing to pay €190m to the council over the 30-year term of the lease. This compared to an estimated revenue of €846,000 for another project, a wind farm, proposed for the site but which was turned down.