The proposed training centre will be located at Kilmallock Business Park - PICTURE: Google Streetview
COUNCILLORS face a “critical decision” for the town of Kilmallock next week.
If they approve planning for a state-of-the-art fire service training centre they may lose a big employer in the locality.
Prior to last week’s monthly Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal meeting, councillors and council staff met in camera. When the Part 8 planning application for the centre in the Kilmallock Business Park came up on the agenda, councillors agreed to defer it, to have a site visit followed by a special meeting on Thursday, October 1 to vote on it.
Cllr PJ Carey said: “This is a critical decision and will effect Kilmallock and its wider area for decades to come.” He is opposed to the planning application on an 8.5 acre site.
“l believe the industrial estate should be kept as it is zoned - industrial. I work in the estate in lrema and worked there prior to this in Lynch Freight. I know of its potential. I am down there every day and l see all of the businesses flourishing.
“If these plans go ahead none of these current businesses will ever be able to expand. No new businesses will ever be started there again. The interests of the people in the area, in my view, are best served by bringing employment into the industrial estate. Industries like Dansko are not confined to Kilmallock, they can easily uproot to somewhere else. This would be a disaster for the area,” said Cllr Carey.
He specifically mentions Dansko Foods because they have emailed him expressing their concerns. In correspondence from the dairy company, seen by the Leader, it reads that they have outgrown their current facility with “plans for upgrade unfeasible due to our location in an historical part of Kilmallock”.
“Our plans have now moved to the Kilmallock Business Park. We are in the process of purchasing a warehouse, which we are currently renting, and also have an agreement in place to purchase one acre of land adjacent to this facility from the council.
“We had this site surveyed recently with the feedback on the area required for trucks being greater than first anticipated. I contacted the council and asked if we could be accommodated in releasing the full plot for us to purchase approximately one more acre. This request was turned down as ‘the fire service require all the land available'.
“This will hinder our expansion plans as we plan to double our operation in size over the next five years,” reads the email. Dansko has been operating in Kilmallock since 1986. They employ 43 people directly in the town with most from the area. This would rise to close to 100 following planned expansion.
The email from Dansko also expresses concerns over the possibility that “fumes / smells could be drawn into our plant through air intake systems. Dairy products / fats are highly susceptible to odour rendering them valueless.”
Similarly, one resident raised concerns with the Leader about the impact the fire service training centre will have on local residents' homes. “Smoke-wise, depending on wind direction it could make for a dirty day for some local residents,” he said.
Cllr Carey stresses that the fire service training centre would be beneficial to the area and highlighted the superb work done by firefighters during the recent flooding in the area.
“I would love to see the training centre built locally, maybe in a less populated place, but pushing forward these plans and not accommodating factories like Dansko is madness. I will not and could not support any initiative that is not in the best interests of my constituents. l call on my colleagues to do likewise.”
When contacted by the Leader, a council spokesperson said they don’t comment on live planning applications.