A protest march is to take place in Limerick next month after controversial plans by Irish Cement Limited to burn alternative fuels, including used tyres, were given the green light by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
There was widespread shock on Thursday when residents, politicians, and groups opposed to the company’s licence application, received confirmation that the EPA was allowing the €10 million project proceed, subject to more than 100 conditions and a 28-day appeal process.
Claire Keating, a local resident, and spokeswoman with Limerick Against Pollution (LAP), said she was “shocked” and “extremely disappointed” about the decision.
Ms Keating said “4,400 objections” were lodged against the plans.
“We will be pursuing lots of avenues to stop this. We definitely will be launching an appeal, and we plan on requesting an oral hearing. We are also seeking legal advice, and we have been on to MEPS in Europe too.”
She said a protest march was planned at City Hall in Limerick on October 5th. “We are not going to give up,” Ms Keating added.
The deadline for objections to be submitted against Irish Cement’s proposal is October 15th.
Fianna Fáil councillor James Collins, said it was a “hugely disappointing decision” which he claimed “will damage public health and Limerick’s reputation as a clean, green city”.
Cllr Collins said the area where waste will be burned was “adjacent to a public park, four schools”.
The EPA’s “proposed determination” on Irish Cement’s application “provides for the acceptance of non-hazardous waste materials to be used as alternative fuels and raw materials, up to a maximum of 90,000 tonnes per annum”.
The EPA said there were “more than 100 individual conditions relating to the environmental management, operation, control and monitoring of the installation”.
It added it was “satisfied that the emissions from the installation when operated in accordance with the conditions of the proposed licence will meet all required environmental protection standards and will not endanger human health or harm the environment in the vicinity of the installation or over a wider area”.
Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan said he was “appalled”, describing it as “a toxic decision” by the EPA.
Welcoming the agency’s decision, a spokesman for Irish Cement said the company “will study the details of the proposed licence before making any further comment”.
The EPA's decision follows a ruling in April 2018 by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the replacement of fossil fuels at Irish Cement's production plants in Limerick and at Platin, Co Meath, which were both opposed by environmental groups.
Limerick City and County Council had initially granted the company permission to go ahead with its plans.
Last December Irish Cement pleaded guilty before Limerick District Court in prosecutions brought by the EPA, to breaching the terms of its industrial emissions licence at its Limerick plant and received a €4,000 fine.
The court heard a thick “glue-like” dust leaked from its production plant, causing damage to nearby homes, cars and gardens.
At the time, Irish Cement had three previous convictions for similar breaches of its industrial licence, including two in July, 2018 and one in 2007.