Environmental consultant Jack O'Sullivan, third from left, with members of Limerick Against Pollution ahead of the Irish Cement oral hearing at the South Court Hotel PICTURE: ADRIAN BUTLER
IRISH Cement’s plans to burn tyres and other recyclable materials is “counter-productive and unnecessary” and goes against EU and government policy.
That’s the view of environmental consultant Jack O’Sullivan, who gave evidence on behalf of the anti-pollution lobby at the oral hearing into the firm’s €10m plans at the South Court Hotel last night.
Mr O’Sullivan, an independent consultant specialising in hazardous and toxic wastes, said more of a focus needs to be given to the job creation possibilities around recycling tyres.
Controversial plans by Irish Cement will see tyres and solid recovered waste burnt in its kiln, rather than fossil fuels. But the proposals have proven controversial, with thousands objecting to the Environmental Protection Agency over the plans, as well as dozens to local planners.
The firm says the reforms are necessary to remain competitive, but locals fear an increase of emissions into the local environment, something Irish Cement says won’t happen.
It has led to An Bord Pleanala establishing an oral hearing, which is deliberating on whether Irish Cement secures a ten-year licence to utilise, and store alternative fuels in Mungret.
In his testimony, Mr O’Sullivan said if Irish Cement gets the go-ahead, it would place it in competition with “tyre reduction, re-use and recycling programmes” which can generate sustainable employment.
Citing two companies which objected to Irish Cement’s plans, he said: “These are good examples of resource recovery operations providing long-term employment. However, despite its environmental credentials, it appears these companies have difficulty in obtaining sufficient raw materials, i.e. used of worn tyres.”
He said rather than being burnt, tyres could be used for road construction and road repair.
“But we have found no evidence of any significant interest in this technology. Instead, it appears that local authorities have failed to grasp the concept of rubberised asphalt.”
Mr O’Sullivan also argued that there is insufficient data to suggest there is an available stock of tyres for Irish Cement to use – and the company may in fact have to import tyres to service the Limerick plant.
He urged An Bord Pleanala to refuse permission to Irish Cement “on the grounds that doing so would destroy a potentially valuable resource and better alternative uses are available for end-of-use tyres”.
Martin Corcoran, representing the Inis Lua residents association committee said: “We are concerned about the volume of these alternative fuels such as tyres being brought from other parts of Ireland and abroad and being stored in our locality. This alternative fuel storage would be a fire threat. An example of this would be the large fire on the Ballysimon Road eaerlier this year at a recycling business. We don’t want tro live with these potential accidents hanving over us.”
An Bord Pleanala’s inspector Michael Dillon agreed to a request to sit late last night in order to facilitate members of the public who were not able to attend proceedings in the day, with the hearing finishing just before 9pm.
It’s anticipated Irish Cement representatives will respond to Mr O’Sullivan’s testimony when the hearing gets started again this morning at 10am.