November delay for decision on €10m Irish Cement plan for Limerick

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Planning delay: Irish Cement’s plant in Mungret

Planning delay: Irish Cement’s plant in Mungret

THERE will be a two-month delay on a decision on controversial plans to allow the use of recovered waste at Irish Cement in Limerick.

It has emerged this week that ​it will now be November 4 before the environmental regulator decides whether Irish Cement should be given a licence to burn waste in Mungret.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was expected to make a decision on the proposals to switch away from fossil fuels to burn solid recovered waste and used tyres this week.

It comes with more than 4,000 people now objecting to the proposals, which Irish Cement say will lead to a €10m investment in the area, plus the protection of its current jobs.​

Clare Keating, Limerick Against Pollution (LAP) has welcomed the delay.

She said: “We are still working on our submission that Jack O’Sullivan, our environmental consultant, is preparing. We want to make a very detailed submission against the grant of a licence. More time is good for all of us.”

Residents believe the reforms at Irish Cement will lead to an increase in dioxins into the local environment, and have numerous other public health concerns. But the firm has always maintained that since the burning will take place at high temperature, there will be no extra emissions.

It also argues that the move is necessary to ensure the plant remains viable into the future.​

“​I’d say they will make a decision pretty imminently after November 4,” Ms Keating said. “We’ve been told this is the final extension.”

It’s the first time the EPA has ever received more than 1,000 objections to a proposal.​

“We’re just hoping the EPA do the right thing and don’t grant the licence,” Ms Keating said. 

In the run up to November 4, LAP will run a series of community events. They are also considering organising a plebiscite among residents in Limerick to canvass their views on the proposal.

Earlier this year, An Bord Pleanala gave the green light to the physical aspects of the Irish Cement proposal. It means the only hurdle the firm now has to clear is securing a licence from the EPA to operate.

The permission – granted following a three-day oral hearing last September – means the firm is allowed to facilitate, store and handle waste materials at its plant.

Irish Cement said it “noted” the EPA request for an extension.

Communications boss Brian Gilmore added: “This programme will reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, reduce CO2 emissions by up to 40,000 tonnes per year, and will help recover valuable resources that might otherwise end up in landfill. It will make the factory more competitive, and will support existing and future employment in the factory.”