Biomass plant proposal for Gort draws mixed reaction

An aerial photo montage of the proposed facility.

Plans to develop a €40 million gas producing plant in Gort have received a mixed reaction – the planning application from a Donegal-based company is currently with Galway County Council.

But a group of concerned residents are holding a public meeting next week while the developers have already held three information meetings in the town to discuss their plans.

It is proposed to provide a biogas plant on a 20 acre site on the outskirts of Gort town. It will take in food waste and slurry and produce gas for the production of food products and for energy purposes.

The plant at Kinincha Road, which aims to provide 20 new jobs in the town, will utilise anaerobic digestion technology to produce renewable energy and organic fertiliser, according to the planning application.

However, local residents have expressed concern about the proposed development and believe that it should be located in a more rural environment rather than on the edge of a town.

The Gort Concerned Residents group say that the biogas plant would have a negative impact on the town due to the volume of heavy vehicles, transporting materials to the plant, that would be coming to the town on a near daily basis.

Spokesperson Karen O’Neill said that according to the company’s own environmental impact statement, there will be 57 vehicles per day coming to the plant six days a week.

Ms O’Neill said that she is a Director of Burren Lowlands but the group itself are making no comment on the proposed development.

“Due to the risks associated with the construction and operation of such a plant processing high risk material it would pose a risk to the river and all Special Areas of Conservation downstream,” the group states.

It is also claimed that such a plant could have a negative impact on the local economy and they also complain about the lack of notification about the information meetings held.

The application has been submitted by Sustainable Bio Energy Ltd who do not wish to respond to the concerns at this time. But they say that they are willing to meet with residents groups to explain their plans at any given time.

Local Fianna Fail councillor Gerry Finnerty said that he studied the plans and noted that the company had submitted a detailed 500-page environmental impact statement with the planning application.

“There is very little negativity to this proposal in Gort. As far as I am concerned it is a very acceptable and safe development for the town that would provide a major economic boost.

“It is a major investment in the town and there are no major objections to it in Gort. They have a sister company that operates a similar plant to that which is proposed for Gort,” Cllr Finnerty added.

The Gort Concerned Residents group will hold a public meeting in Sullivan’s Hotel, Gort on next Thursday evening, May 17 at 7.30pm.