Tuam welcomes refusal of anaerobic waste plant planning permission

The people of Tuam will not stand by and allow their town to be continually targeted by developers of anaerobic waste digestion plants, according to county councillor Shaun Cunniffe who welcomed the refusal by the local authority to grant planning permission to the latest application.

The Tuam based Labour councillor made the comments this week after it emerged that a planning application put forward by Liam Furey for an anaerobic waste digestion biogas plant at Cloontoa in Tuam has been refused. The plans for the 499kilowatt plant include a waste storage building, offices, a control room, a weigh bridge, site office, digester, storage tanks, access roads, and parking. Ninety submissions were lodged in relation to the plans, from individuals and groups such as the Irish Wheelchair Associaion and Tuam Athletic Club.

“It is the right decision,” Cllr Cunniffe told the Advertiser yesterday, as these types of facilities “have consistently been proven to create serious odour nuisances in the UK” and they are “not suitable for urban areas,” such as Tuam.

“The technology is just not there to allow an anaerobic waste digestion plant to operate without that nuisance and that was the main objection to it. But because the roads in Tuam are good and the population is there developers think it suits the facility to be here. This will destroy the air quality. We have to put people first. The whole town is united on this issue. There have been examples of leakages in one plant in the UK. This is sludge, offal, the world’s worst stuff, it would destory Tuam.

“It’s a strategic plan by anaerobic developers that Tuam is an ideal location for Connacht. There is a long term plan to target the town for such facilities. A biogas facility at Airglooney did get planning permission from the council but it was refused when it was brought before An Bord Pleanála. The council were embarassed at the hearing as it showed they did not understand the process of the plant and what problems it can cause,” said Cllr Cunniffe, who is now calling on the council executive to give an update to councillors outlining what expert knowledge there is to deal with such applications.

“I will be contacting the county manager asking for councillors to be briefed on the considerations that are taken when granting planning for these applications. We need to get it in the county development plan where these things can go. There needs to be plans and policies in place. The developer would have to invest in a proper location and put in an access road there. I know of at least two further applications in the pipeline. The council has to tell councillors and the people of Tuam what the hurdles are,” said Cllr Cunniffe

Such is the opposition to the plants that a campaign group, Tuam Bio Gas Concern Group, has been set up on Facebook. Many of the posts praised the work of the action group and other locals and in response the campaign group said: “It's people power guys, it was great to see the whole town coming together this time round, if Liam Furey and the people that are hiding behind him want an AD plant so badly let them put it on their own doorstep. The people of Tuam have had enough, we will fight you every step of the way, we're here for the long haul and we're not going away.”

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