Residents object to West Limerick pet incinerator plan

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

St Ita's Hospital, Newcastle West
OVER 120 residents in Newcastle West have lodged objections to a planned pet crematorium in a local industrial estate, citing fears that it “could cause serious pollution and health risks” to a local school and hospital.

OVER 120 residents in Newcastle West have lodged objections to a planned pet crematorium in a local industrial estate, citing fears that it “could cause serious pollution and health risks” to a local school and hospital.

Door-to-door petitions have been circulated in protest over the plan to open the crematorium in the Desmond Business Park in Gortboy, which is near a number of housing estates, two schools and St Ita’s Community Hospital.

Residents associations, nearby businesses, staff and parents from Gaelscoil O Doghair and Desmond College and a number of private individuals have all lodged objections to the plan, citing concerns about potential harmful emissions and water pollution.

The plan for change of use of the facility from light industrial to a pet crematorium was lodged with County Hall by applicant Chris O’Shea, of Dooncatteen, Newcastle West in April, and a decision on the application is due next Tuesday.

However given the level of opposition and the nature of the proposal, the council is likely to seek further information on the plans, which could delay a decision by up to six months. Any decision may also be appealed to An Bord Pleanala.

As of this week 123 local residents have lodged signed objections with the council planning office. Many cite the lack of a full environmental impact survey (EIS) in the plans as a cause for particular concern.

In a report dated May 20, a HSE inspector cites that “very little information on the proposed development” has been submitted to date. The HSE is seeking a full EIS outlining the potential impact on air quality, planned odour controls, sanitation and chemical storage.

The plan outlines that the premises would receive pet carcasses and keep them frozen in cold storage before being cremated in a specialised incinerator.

An objection lodged by the board of management of Gaelscoil O Doghair states that they are “extremely concerned at the risk of contamination to our children and staff”.

“As the nearest primary school to this plant, we find that there is a lack of information around this proposal, and we agree that the location is totally unsuitable for such a development”, the school’s board stated.

Another objection, signed by members of the nearby Gortboy Training Centre, cites fears that “harmful dioxins” from the crematorium will prevent them from using harvested rain water for growing vegetables.

A submission signed by Donal Cooper, on behalf of the training centre, raises fears that “emissions from the facility could cause pollution and health risks”, particularly given the proximity of the two schools and St Ita’s Hospital.

Objections have also been raised about the potential for the crematorium’s incinerator to operate unmanned, with one objector describing this as “a dangerous practice” that could create a fire risk.

In a statement Mr O’Shea stated that the facility “will be used for the cremation of family pets, and that similar facilities are currently in operation in County Meath and the UK “without any negative impacts”.

Mr O’Shea said that the incinerator planned for development “does not require an environmental impact statement” due to its smaller size. He added that “the only waste from the facility is ash which will be returned to the pet owner”.