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Community reacts to renewed sludge proposal

Story by Seamus Enright

Friday, 8th June, 2018 5:15pm

Community reacts to renewed sludge proposal

“It's almost 12 years since the buildings on that site were last properly used. The whole thing to us has become complete farce, the way it's being going on and on. The notion that what is being proposed is the best available technology available is just nonsense,” a local community group has said, responding to news that planning will be sought once again to develop a municipal sludge composting facility near Mullahoran.
The comments come after applicant Rodney Wilton of company Wilton Waste last week confirmed he had engaged consulants to assess a European Judgement, which by proxy, scuppered his planning permission to transform the site at Carnagh Upper and Cloncovet, Kilcogy, for sludge composting.
The application, first granted permission by Cavan County Council in 2013, sought to convert the former mushroom compost manufacturing facility for municipal sludge composting purposes.
The decision was later upheld following an appeal to An Bord Pleanála despite a senior planner recommending refusal on a range of issues from proximity to local dwellings, flooding issues, road network and sensitivity of the neighbouring natural environment and tributaries.
Last January, a High Court judge initially refused the residents' application seeking to overturn the ABP decision also, but a subsequent European Court of Justice ruling resulted in the planning being quashed. That ruling said that “mitigating measures” could not be considered when screening a development which could potentially impact upon a Natura 2000 site.
The Erne Valley residents complaint was that ABP had failed to conduct a proper screening of the proposed development’s potential impact upon the River Erne and greater Lough Oughter area, Natura 2000 site.
Last week Mr Wilton said his consultants would “shortly commence” work on relodging the planning application. “We are confident of an eventual positive planning outcome for the development. This is based on the positive decision the original planning application received, not only at Cavan County Council level,  t also at An Bord Pleanala.”
But a spokesperson for Erne Valley Concerned Residents Group (EVCR) said, addressing Mr Wilton's comments, that “things have changed”, including on a national scale, referring to specifically to plans by Irish Water to spend up to €10m developing a similar facility in Longford.
Capable of taking leftover sludge from neighbouring counties Cavan, Roscommon and Leitrim, the move is part of Irish Water's strategy, announced in 2016, to ensure a national standardised approach for the treatment, transport, storage and disposal of wastewater sludge over the next 25 years. Longford's existing facility is located at the main wastewater treatment plant in Longford Town but Irish Water propose to double capacity at the plant.
The EVCR spokesperson said: “They say nothing has changed and that they intend to submit again but things have changed, of course they have. Since the application Irish Water for instance have carried out a national study with much more advanced solutions to their proposals, with at least 50% less waste.”

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