RESUBMITTED plans for the development of a controversial explosives factory on the banks of the Shannon Estuary have been approved by An Bord Pleanála, six years after the first application was refused on appeal.
The decision by the appeals’ board to grant Shannon Explosives Limited permission for the construction of facilities and infrastructure for the importation, manufacturing, storage, distribution and exportation of explosives materials represents a big boost for the company.
The first plans for an explosives factory at Cahercon, Kildysart were submitted to Clare County Council in 1999. However, the 10-year saga may not be over yet after objectors vowed to continue their battle to stop the company starting work on the project next year.
Cairde Chill an Disirt Teo (CCDT) spokesman, Terence Corry, told The Clare Champion that the group had no intention of giving up the fight. He confirmed that the group was considering a number of options, including taking judicial review proceedings to try and overturn the decision.
The company is required to obtain an assent licence from the Department of Justice under the 1875 Explosive Act. An assert hearing, started in the Temple Gate Hotel in 2001, was adjourned on a point of order because of a High Court application and Mr Corry claimed that a new hearing is now required, which would involve public submission.
The company also has to apply for a foreshore licence to the Department of Agriculture, which is also understood to involve public consultation.
The objectors suffered a blow a few months ago when the costs of a High Court case were awarded against them but they are hoping that this can be reviewed, following a recent High Court directive.
According to the Friends of the Irish Environment, these costs mock the Rio Declaration, the Aarhus’s convention and the European Directive, all of which promise people access to environmental justice that is “free of charge” or “not prohibitively expensive”.
“Science, reason and the law have failed us and the local group that we have assisted, who have recently had costs awarded against them which they can not possibly meet,” said a spokesman.
Taking into account the nature of the proposed development and distance from densely populated areas, the board stated that the development would not be prejudicial to public health or safety.
The appeals board also approved the extraction of rock fill material from an existing registered quarry from lands under control of the developer and its transportation using existing internal roads, for the required infill of the manufacturing facility site, improvement works on the existing access road, required landscaping and ancillary works at Cahircon, subject to 29 conditions.
The proposed development includes six single-storey buildings, three magazines for the storage of detonators, a security building and car parking area on a 17.38 hectare site.
The conditions prohibit blasting or destructive testing on site, no increase in production levels, the categories or maximum quantities of explosives stored on site or any change in raw materials. A noise survey and assessment programme has to be undertaken to assess the impact of noise emissions arising from the extraction activities.
The board ruled that no more than 300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate can be stored in a single compartment. The plant can only operate between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday, excluding any security requirements and no deliveries can be made to the facility outside this time period.
The company has to pay a financial contribution in respect of public infrastructure and facilities benefiting the development, which has to be agreed with the council.