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Recovery facility falls foul of appeal to An Bord Pleanála

A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to change the use of an animal skin and hide curing and storage facility to a materials recovery facility has been refused by An Bord Pleanála.
Walsh Waste Ltd proposed that the materials recovery facility would process and recycle construction and demolition waste, as well as dry recyclables from municipal waste at a site between Gort and Loughrea in Kilchreest.
The company behind the project submitted the application in November last year and Galway County Council granted permission for the project in January. This, however, was appealed by Kilchreest National School board of management and a number of local residents.
The board of management objected to the development on the grounds that the school is located opposite a busy junction “currently supporting significant truck movements taking material from two quarries”. Additional truck movements associated with the proposed facility would “be excessive and would increase health and safety concerns (noise, dust, exhaust fumes) to an unacceptable level,” the group’s objection claimed.
The school is located approximately 150 metres from the site and the board of management stated it was “concerned that noise from the recycling machinery and processes as well as associated traffic will have an adverse effect on all school activity”.
The objection also cited dust as a potential problem.
“Dust particles, some of which may be toxic, are likely to be distributed to the school environment from the recycling building and handling of demolition waste. We assess the health risk of our pupils and staff to be unacceptable in this regard,” the board of management told Galway County Council in its objection.
The objection cited concerns about possible gas and odours as well as the “risk of infestation of school premises” by vermin.
The board of management at the school stated  the plans for the site constituted an industrial process in an area not zoned for industrial use. It added that the location borders a flood plain and an aquifer of local and national environmental importance and “we are seriously concerned about the adverse effects this may have on the quality of the water downstream from the facility, which will enter an area of significant scientific importance”.
A further worry outlined by the school’s board of management related to operating standards.
“We are very concerned that once this facility is up and running, operating standards will not be maintained at a consistently high level and promises to be ‘good neighbours’ will be forgotten and Kilchreest National School, its pupils and staff present and future will be stuck with it,” the objection stated.
In its appeal to An Bord Pleanála, the board of management stated that the developers had not shown the need for the proposed facility to be located at the site in Kilchreest. It also reiterated its concerns regarding noise, traffic, atmospheric emissions, attraction of vermin, flooding in the area, construction and demolition waste and pointed out what it said were conflicts with the County Development Plan.
The owners of the lands adjoining the proposed facility, Paddy, Ann and Sean Stewart of Fish Pond, Kilchreest, also objected and appealed Galway County Council’s decision to An Bord Pleanála, through Patrick J Newell Consulting Engineers. This appeal to the board consisted of 27 concerns including issues around the disposal and treatment of effluent, what the Stewart family saw as a lack of detail with regard to the type of material that would be processed at the site, a “seriously deficient” Environmental Impact Study regarding the level of information supplied concerning the materials, which will be processed and the actual processing procedure, the devaluation of properties adjacent to the proposed site, the site size, the traffic impact assessments and safety audit information which the appeal said were “deficient and misleading,” “totally unacceptable” noise levels, possible odour from the processing plant, possible atmospheric emissions, possible spread of disease from vermin, insects and scavengers, potential fuel spillages, surface water disposal, sustainability and concerns about the availability of fresh water, among other things.
As part of this appeal, a letter from Castledaly IFA branch was submitted, opposing the development. In a letter, the branch stated the risk of pollution associated with such a facility in the country environs of the site, as well as the increased traffic with the operation of the proposed facility are not acceptable. It also stated that “placing such a facility in the countryside is completely out of character for the environs of the adjacent area and the Kilchreest district”. A “facility of this nature,” the local IFA branch stated, “would be more suited to the edge of a large town, closer to the source of material, to the main road routes, with connections to council controlled waste water works and urban storm drainage systems”.
An Bord Pleanála overturned the council’s decision and decided to refuse permission for the materials recovery facility because of the site’s location over a major aquifer “of regional importance and high vulnerability”.
A further reason was its proximity to the Owenshee River, which flows into the nearby Peterswell Turlough, a designated Special Area of Conservation.
“Having regard to the scale of the proposed development, the siting of the proposed wastewater treatment system within a confined and restricted area, the high water table at this location, the poor natural soil characteristics and the likely contaminated nature of surface water yard run-off from the proposed materials recovery activities, it is considered that adequate provision has not been made for the satisfactory treatment and disposal of foul wastewaters by means of the proposed wastewater treatment system and for the satisfactory treatment and disposal of surface waters by means of the intended surface water system,” the board stated.
The proposed development would “constitute an unacceptable risk of pollution of both ground and surface waters in the vicinity, which would be prejudicial to public health and to the proper conservation of the environment,” the board decided.

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