Concerned residents in the Kilcogy area are determined to fight plans to develop a controversial sludge composting facility at Cloncovet. Members of the Erne Valley Concerned Residents group told The Anglo-Celt this week that they will lodge an appeal with An Bord Pleanála to a decision by Cavan County Council to grant permission for the development to Rodney Wilton.
John Beglan, a member of the group, said that if this development is allowed to proceed it will make at least one family homeless. Retired farmer Paddy Harten lives just 63 meters from the boundary of the site.
“This goes against all planning guidelines, which state that such developments should be a minimum of 250 meters away from any home but it’s recommended that they be between 500 meters and a kilometer away from the nearest residence. “This development will have the effect of at least one homestead becoming uninhabitable. No development should be permitted that would displace somebody from their home,” Mr Beglan told the Celt.
The group estimates that there are about 124 residences within a one mile radius of the site.
“We were always brought up not to ask anybody to do what you’re not prepared to do yourself. The developer has a big land bank in his own area but he obviously doesn’t like the nuisance of smell and everything else that goes with it,” he added.
Rodney Wilton, the man who founded Wilton Waste Recycling, has repeatedly declined to comment on his development plans until the planning process has come to its full conclusion.
In all, the latest planning application - the third in as many years for such a facility at the site - sparked 36 objections locally with locals citing concerns including smell, the environment, public health, flooding, noise, traffic and road safety among others.
However, the local authority approved the development earlier this month with 19 conditions attached including the payment of €39,000 prior to commencement of development as part of the local contributions scheme.
Other conditions related to technical specifications, restrictions to noise levels and operating hours and a stipulation that prior to the completion of the N55 Dundavan to Mullaghoran Realignment Scheme all development traffic accessing the site from the N55 shall access the L6561 local road from the western direction only (ie from the Granard direction).
In 2011, Cavan County Council refused a previous planning application for a facility at the site - a decision which led to an appeal to An Bord Pleanála by Mr Wilton. That appeal was later withdrawn.
Based on those plans, the local authority said it was refusing because it found the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) deficient in that it did not properly address odour abatement and other issues.
Mr Beglan has queried why the local authority has now changed its mind in respect of the development. “It’s the exact same development. We’re curious as to why Cavan County Council should overturn their previous decision not to grant planning permission,” he said.
It is not the practice of Cavan County Council to comment on planning decisions until such time as the planning process has reached its conclusion.
Mr Wilton first applied for permission for this development in 2009 but withdrew that application after more than 40 third-party submissions were lodged.
Bob Boaden, who lives “just over the hill” from the site, is another of the objectors. He is particularly concerned about the risk of flooding at the site. As part of its submission to Cavan County Council, the group submitted photo evidence of up to 48cm of water at the entrance to the site in 2009. “It’s crazy activity to operate in a flood plain. You’re talking about taking in excrement and processing it in a flood plain, on an artificial island.”
Mr Boaden says that there are 124 residences within a mile of the proposed facility and expresses concern for public health due to the risk of ground water and air pollution. Apart from a “nasty smell”, he cites potential health risks from the fungi and bacteria produced with the odour.
Although no formal appeal has, as of yet, been lodged with the planning appeals board in respect of the current planning permission, Mr Beglan told the Celt that this is being done. The group will host a table quiz in the parish hall in Killydoon this Friday night, March 1, at 9pm sharp to raise funds to fight their appeal.