Limerick councillors defend decision on Gortadroma plant

Colm Ward

Reporter:

Colm Ward

Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins has criticised the council over its handling of the issue
Local councillors have defended their decision to approve a lease for a waste-to-energy plant in Gortadroma, amid growing concerns about the project.

Local councillors have defended their decision to approve a lease for a waste-to-energy plant in Gortadroma, amid growing concerns about the project.

But Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins has criticised the council over its handling of the issue, claiming that the concerns of local people had not been addressed and they deserved “better treatment” from the council. “This proposal which has been backed by the council is of huge concern to the local community in Gortadroma, Ballyhahill and the surrounding areas. While of course I am supportive of new jobs and have worked very hard to secure new investment across Limerick, I think it is a mistake for people to be rushing out prematurely to welcome and promote this proposal,” he said.

“Residents in Gortadroma and Ballyhahill have genuine concerns about issues such as any potential effects on house prices, potential health and environmental impact, what will be done with the by-products of this process and the ability of the local infrastructure to deal with the massive upsurge in traffic arising from the development.”

He added that it was not a “done deal” and that the council needed to address the concerns of people living close to the proposed plant. “If necessary, the council should seek withdraw the lease terms agreed with the project promoters,” he added.

But local councillors, including Fianna Fail members, are standing over their decision to give the council the go-ahead to sign a lease with the company behind the project.

“I still believe we did the right thing,” said Mayor of Limerick Kevin Sheahan.

However, he acknowledged he wasn’t aware at the time “that there was such a large number of concerned people out there”.

And he warned that there would be a “huge number of objections” to the development unless the company could address the concerns of people living close to Gortadroma.

“The proposed developers of this project need to get their butts into this country as quick as possible, meet with the public, talk to the public and answer their questions,” he said.

“I would have preferred if we hadn’t signed before they came out and spoke to the people out there,” he added.

Cllr Richard O’Donoghue stressed the lease was “conditional” on the project getting the go-ahead from the EPA and the planning authorities: “If it does not pass the EPA and the planning standards then it does not happen.”