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Opposition to the Gort Biogas plant in evidence on the old Galway road outside Gort. Photograph by John Kelly

Funds continue to roll in for Gort’s Biogas challenge

MORE than €80,000 has been raised as part of efforts to launch a judicial challenge to the granting of planning permission for a biogas plant in Gort. 

Opposition group, Gort Biogas Concern, confirmed earlier this month that legal representation has been secured to initiate the court challenge.

The group said it is determined to overturn An Bord Pleanálas decision to allow the controversial project, in the wake of its rejection by Galway County Council. The Concern Group has also revived its awareness-raising walking campaign which invites people to walk the town’s scenic ‘Golden Mile’ every Sunday to learn more about the project and the strength of local opposition. 

A statement from the Concern Group confirmed this week that €82,000 has been raised to-date “in order to protect Gort and South Galway from a catastrophic biogas development”.

“From far and near people have donated €82,000 in less than two weeks after the public meeting on January 4,” the statement said. “Contributions continue to grow, giving the group the strength to push onwards.”

The Concern Group’s statement also clarified how funding is managed. It gave details of its financial and legal advisors and explained that the company Gort Biogas Concern Group CLG was established in 2021 “in order to control and clarify the objective of the group”.

“This was important to protect the groups volunteer members, should the campaign need to move towards a judicial review and further,” the statement said. “It was also important to represent the community legitimately and with complete transparency.”

The group outlined that funding arrives from three main sources: GoFundMe; direct bank lodgements and Gort Credit Union. The statement noted that donations may only be made through those channels and that all donors details are taken and protected under GDPR.

“Access to accounts is strictly controlled by joint treasurers and company secretary,” the statement added. ‘Our finances are returned annually by our above named company accountant.”

The Concern Group has also started walking the Kinincha Road again, every Sunday

afternoon, leaving from Lidl carpark at 2pm. The initiative is described as “a leisurely family walk to the site of the proposed massive biogas plant”.

“During the walk people can hear more about this application, get a better sense of the enormity of the plans and the implications for the people and natural environment of Gort and South Galway,” the statement said.

“After seeing the site, walkers can continue along Gorts wonderful Riverwalk, over the bridge and beyond [to] Aldi.

At the end of December, An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the plant which will be less than one kilometre from the town centre. Sustainable Bio Energy Ltd was given the green light, subject to 22 conditions.

The board said the plant would be in accordance with national, regional and local policy and consistent with the Climate Action Plan 2021 and Climate Action Plan 2023.

The board noted that the site is not zoned for industrial use, but said that that did not preclude the granting of permission. Stringent conditions have been applied including full compliance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) and Natura Impact Statement.

Limits have been applied to the amount of raw material that can be treated annually and a reporting system must be put in place on the operation of the facility.

Controls will be placed on deliveries and limits have been imposed on the amount of biogas and/or biomethane present on site at any one time. Construction will be controlled and an odour management plan will also be required.

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