GRANTING a licence allowing Irish Cement to burn waste material instead of fossil fuels at its Castlemungret plant has been condemned as a “retrograde decision” by Deputy Cathal Crowe.
The Environmental Protection Agency has given Irish Cement the green light to proceed with its €10 million plan to change its production process.
In 2018, An Bord Pleanala granted the go-ahead to Irish Cement to construct the buildings, which would be used for the storage of the materials and the granting of a licence was a major boost for the company plans.
This development, which supports 105 full time positions at the factory, has been opposed by a number of local environmental campaigners, Deputy Cathal Crowe and anti-incineration lobby group Limerick Against Pollution (LAP).
Irish Cement has previously stated it is no plans to construct an incinerator and noted using alternative fuels is safe and has been standard practice in cement factories throughout Europe for 30 years.
It has claimed extensive evidence shows that when other factories have made the move to using these fuels, there was no change in the type or quantity of emissions.
However, LAP have claimed granting this licence will present various health risks to the local community.
Numerous people had objected against the granting of this licence to the environmental regulator.
Claire Keating of Limerick Against Pollution said the group are very disappointed with the EPA’s decision to allow the company a licence to burn waste as an alternative fuel source, having spent
the last six years opposing this development.
Having exhausted all avenues to stop this development at EU level, Ms Keating said the group doesn’t have the resources to take a Judicial Review unless someone comes forward to fund it.
Deputy Crowe has condemned the EPA’s decision and is very concerned fuel being burned in the plant will now go up chimney stacks and being airborne in Clare.
“I think this is a real retrograde decision and this amounts to archaic outdated policy and it is ironically happening at a time when the Dáil is voting through landmark legislation to tackle climate change.
“The Covid crisis over the past 14 months has reminded us all just how important good, clean, fresh air is and the importance of being outdoors as much as possible.
“The prevailing winds in this part of Ireland generally cross the Shannon Estuary in a northerly direction meaning that there’s a high likelihood that these pollutant particles will ultimately lodge on parts of our county.
“Over the last number of months, I have campaigned against the fuel conversion plans at the Castlemungret plant and have cited the close proximity of the UNESCO recognised Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark and many other scenic parts of Clare as one of a number of reasons not to move ahead with this.
“Although the Irish Cement factory may appear to be remote and distant from residential parts of Clare, these pollutants won’t be following the linear pattern of the roads – they will blow over the estuary and into our county.
“The trend across most developed countries in recent years has been to move away from incineration and this is hugely disappointing and whilst I’ve been involved in this battle for the past three years, I think it now very much looks like we are starting to run out of road.
Welcoming this decision, factory manager, Pat Robinson said the entire workforce in Limerick is delighted that there has been a positive conclusion to this extensive review process.
“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.
“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.”
“Irish Cement 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.”