Council to decide on power plant rezoning


MEMBERS OF Clare County Council are to vote today on a contentious rezoning that will, if passed, pave the way for an €85 million combined heat and power plant (CHP) in Shannon.

As part of a new draft of the Shannon Local Area Plan, the council is planning to rezone a large tract of land at Stonehall, north of the Shannon Free Zone.

A private firm, Carbon Sole Industries, has already provided local briefings on its plan to construct the 60-70MW CHP in Shannon, and the rezoning is necessary for a planning application to be lodged.

The project is to generate electricity from biodegradable waste and meet a growing demand for reliable power in the region.

The rezoning requires a majority of councillors to vote in favour.

Residents of the Stonehall area have been lobbying councillors in recent days to vote against the rezoning.

According to a spokeswoman for the Concerned Residents of Stonehall and Environs, residents “are fearful for the future of their school that is fast increasing in numbers, and the added pressure the roads infrastructure will have to bear if this project goes ahead”.

“Also noise levels will be a huge cause of concern, and the uncertainty concerning the possible health implications from the plant itself.”

The spokeswoman said that Seán Daly of Carbon Sole Industries has assured locals that the proposed plant would not have a negative impact on local residents or would not present any health hazards.

The residents’ spokeswoman said residents had a number of concerns: the height and scale of the proposed building; possible noise pollution; health implications; and safety issues in relation to traffic movement on the school road.

“It is also worth bearing in mind that Carbon Sole Industries are only proposing to develop 20 to 25 acres of the approximately 80 acres, and of course this opens the door for a number of other waste activities, and this is certainly a scary prospect because of its close location to Stonehall school and the local community.”

The rezoning is backed by county manager Tom Coughlan.

In the manager’s report circulated to councillors ahead of the meeting, it stated that the council would support and facilitate the development of the site “for a large-scale, strategic green energy development and distribution network to assist in the delivery of a low-carbon industrial, commercial and business environment, meeting the existing energy requirements of the town and business”.

The manager’s report said that the provision of a strategic green infrastructure network for Shannon, with the potential to deliver sustainable electricity and thermal energy, was in line with a low-carbon regional economy, delivering low-carbon energy to industry, commerce and residents.

Mr Daly said: “It should be noted that the rezoning process for Stonehall that has being initiated by Clare County Council does not apply to any individual, specified company or any specific proposal.

“It would be inappropriate for me to comment further as the rezoning of land is a matter solely for Clare County Council, its members and its planners,”he added.