Limerick council and Irish Cement used same consultancy firm

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick@limerickleader.ie

Limerick council and Irish Cement used same consultancy firm

A decision was due on Irish Cement’s plans by August 8 – but that has now been put back in the wake of the oral hearing

A LEADING consultancy firm advised Irish Cement on its application to change process in Mungret – just months after assisting the council with the same project.

An Bord Pleanala is currently deciding whether to allow Irish Cement proceed with €10m plans – which will see the use of fossil fuels largely ditched in favour of used tyres.

It comes after Limerick City and County Council granted conditional permission – but still provided a submission to the environmental regulator.

The national planning authority has this week confirmed that it will hold an oral hearing into the scheme after it received dozens of objections from residents concerned about the impact of these plans on the local environment.

Irish Cement has always defended the plans, saying they are crucial for the future viability of the plant, and will not bring an increase in emissions.

It’s anticipated this will take place in September or October.

Cllr Cian Prendiville, who received the disclosure about AWN Consulting, said the fact this firm had worked for both Irish Cement and the council “raises serious questions about the way environmental protection is done in this country”.

“The reality is AWN consulting has supported pretty much every single incinerator ever proposed in Ireland, from the hugely controversial one in Cork, to the hated gasification plant proposed in West Limerick [Gortadroma],” he said. The northside Solidarity member says he has previously been blocked from raising this matter at council – but will try for a third time.

AWN Consulting was hired by the City and County Council to provide a submission to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which will ultimately decide whether Irish Cement is given a licence to change process in Mungret.

The Leader understands the firm then switched its attention to helping Irish Cement to provide information on noise pollution levels around its vast plant at the end of the Dock Road.

Members of Limerick Against Pollution (LAP), the residents group set up in opposition to Irish Cement’s proposals were notified of An Bord Pleanala’s decision to hold an oral hearing this week.

It will be held in public and allow objectors to make a more comprehensive case in favour and against the plans. Tim Hourigan of LAP welcomed the move.

He said: “An Bord Pleanala have been cagey as to whether there would be an oral hearing or not. Our worry at the moment is whether we would be given sufficient notice. There are a lot of objectors on this appeal, and trying to organise time off work so we can make our presentations is a very time-consuming exercise.”

Cllr Daniel Butler, Fine Gael, said he was not surprised to hear of the oral hearing.

“An oral hearing is the least the local community deserves to ensure full accountability and due diligence in a hugely important local issue,” he said.

A decision was due on Irish Cement’s plans by August 8 – but that has now been put back in the wake of the oral hearing.