Irish Cement's plant in Mungret, where the burning of solid recovered waste and used tyres will now be permitted
THE Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cleared the way for Irish Cement to change its process at its Mungret factory.
This afternoon, the regulator contacted members of Limerick Against Pollution (LAP), which has fought against the proposal since 2015, to confirm it has granted a licence to Irish Cement to switch away from fossil fuels in Castlemungret.
In effect, this represents the final piece of the jigsaw for the firm, which has already secured permission from An Bord Pleanala to construct the physical aspects of its new proposal.
Now, the EPA has green lit the burning of new fuels including used tyres, solid recovered waste and a number of other substances.
Irish Cement has previously said its €10m reforms are vital for the sustained competitiveness of its plant in Limerick, which is one of the few in Europe still reliant on fossil fuels.
It’s said that because burning of materials will take place at such a high temperature, the impact on the environment will be negligible.
However, LAP have disagreed, highlighting various health risks they feel the reforms will leave.
More than 3,000 people had objected to the environmental regulator, which like An Bord Pleanala before it, held an oral hearing into the proposals last December.
Following the move to afford Irish Cement a licence, the options open to those who are against the proposal appear limited.
But sources have suggested one of the more high-profile objectors might pursue a High Court judicial review against the project.
Irish Cement originally sought to change process in 2008, and reactivated those plans in 2015, in a move which led to the current opposition.
In a statement released this teatime, Irish Cement's factory manager in Limerick Pat Robinson said: "The EPA decision today provides us with the opportunity to now switch away from the use of imported fossil fuels and play our part in achieving the 2030 alternative fuel target in the government’s Climate Action Plan. Important also, is the fact that this decision will help secure the future of the factory and is an endorsement of all the hard work being done by everyone on the team. We will continue our work with the local community to help provide reassurance that switching fuels will be positive for the area and not negatively impact on air quality or the local environment.”
Claire Keating of LAP said: "This news is extremely disappointing to us as an environmental group after investing six years of our lives into fighting this application. We have followed all avenues in appealing decisions granted by Limerick City and County Council, An Bord Pleanala, and the EPA as well as lobbying our elected representatives throughout. The sad thing is we have been let down badly by our Council and especially the EPA who are meant to be there to protect the health and well being of our citizens. But no one is surprised by this decision as vested interests of big business in this country have always come first."
There has also been further reaction from around Limerick
Very disappointing - communities and elected representatives who had genuine concerns have obviously been ignored.— Maurice Quinlivan TD (@QuinlivanTD) May 18, 2021
Let’s see what conditions are attached tomorrow
EPA decision to grant a licence, subject to conditions, to Irish Cement Limited in Mungret
#Breaking #IrishCement— Cllr Daniel Butler (@DanielButlerFG) May 18, 2021
Its with great disappointment I share with you that the EPA has notified me of its decision to grant a licence, subject to conditions, to Irish Cement. An appalling decision against the wishes of all citizens of #Limerick Another public health blow! pic.twitter.com/HZPVbUVm7g
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