Green light for Foynes smokeless plant

CPL Fuels loses appeal  to An Bord Pleanála

Norma Prendiville


Norma Prendiville


Green light for Foynes smokeless plant

Bord na Mona is to build a smokeless fuel plant near Foynes port

CPL Fuels has lost its appeal against a plan by Bord na Mona to build a smokeless fuel plant close to it in Foynes port.

Now An Bord Pleanala has given Bord na Mona the green light to proceed with their €20m biomass and smokeless fuel manufacturing plant. This opens the way for Foynes to become a smokeless fuel hub, with up to 200 new jobs coming on stream when both CPL and Bord na Mona are fully operational in the next one to two years.  

But Bord na Mona has not yet set a date to begin building the new plant which is expected to create 100 jobs during construction and 59 permanent jobs.

It must first review the planning permission and its conditions, as a matter of company policy, a company spokesman said this Wednesday. He expected this process to take a number of weeks. But, he stressed: “We are committed to the project.”

Bord na Mona first applied for planning permission to develop a plant at its existing site on Foynes docks in June last year. Limerick City and County Council granted permission in February this year but this was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by CPL Fuels Ltd. (CPL Fuels formally launched its €22m investment in a smokeless fuel plant with 140 jobs last October on a site near to the Bord na Mona site.) 

CPL said, in its submission to An Bord Pleanala, that it had “no objection in principle” to the Bord na Mona proposal. But it outlined a long list of concerns, among them that it failed to protect the local environment, that it would have a serious impact on the protected Natura 2000 sites and that there was a threat of coastal flooding to the site. They also argued that an Integrated Pollution Control Licence would be more suitable to the plant being proposed. 

In a very long and detailed report, the Bord Pleanala inspector examined and responded to each point but upheld the planning permission with 15 conditions.

These include the drawing up of traffic management and smarter travel plans as well as a landscaping scheme and monitoring of dust emissions and noise levels. The company must also ensure there is no discharges of process or treated process water to groundwater or surface water outlets.

Last year, Bord na Mona’s head of fuel, Eddie Scaife indicated they hoped to be in production by 2017. But he also indicated that no final decision had been made as to what biomass products would be used. They could, he said, include elephant grass or fast growing forestry.

“We haven't definitively decided on what types. We will be experimenting with a range of different products but they would be broadly biomass, wood-based products. We would be looking at a number of things to get the right blend,” he told the Limerick Leader.

The company expects that demand for smokeless fuels will increase significantly from 2018 when a nationwide ban on smoky coal comes into force. Currently the ban only applies to larger urban areas.

CPL Fuels is also hoping to cash in on that smokeless fuel market but also to become a hub for smokeless fuels in Europe as coal supplies dwindle.

Bord na Mona lodged an objection to the CPL plant in 2014 saying they did not think it was appropriate that a development of that nature and scale should proceed without a full Natural Impact Study.