Biomass project runs into trouble with planners

An aerial photo montage of the proposed facility.

The developers of a controversial €40 million gas manufacturing plant in Gort has been informed by planners that their environmental impact assessment report is seriously deficient.

Galway County Council have sought further information from the company behind the application to build a biogas plant in the South Galway town – the planning application has received around 140 submissions opposed to the development.

There have been a number of public meetings in Gort organised by a local campaign group who are totally against the plant going ahead. The developers have held information meetings about their proposals.

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 manufacture 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.

The planning application was submitted a couple of months ago but now Galway County Council are seeking further information about the biogas plant and particularly with regard to the feedstock that will be used to generate the gas.

Planners say that having regard to environmental sensitivities of the site and the serious risk posed to the environment in the event of a leak or explosion, they want to know the justification for the site selection in Gort town over other suitable locations in the county or region.

The planning authority also said that the environmental impact assessment report (EIAR) that accompanies the application is serious deficient in the assessment and impact of the proposed development.

They said that this report shold have included specific details of the actual sources of the feedstock.

It is stated that the biogas plant will be supplied by 95,000 tonnes of non-hazardous liquid and non-liquid biodegradable waste from agricultural and other sources within a 100km radius.

But planners are concerned that the actual locations of where these materials will be coming from have not been indicated.

“The absence of specific information on the feedstock to supply the proposed biogas plant means that there is no guarantee of security of continued supply”, the planners say in their request for additional information.

The application has been submitted by Sustainable Bio Energy Ltd who are based in Donegal. Local residents have expressed concern about its location so close to the town of Gort.

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.

Residents and environmental groups have voiced their opposition to the planning application citing potential bad odours and noise that would be emanating from the plant and the negative impact it would have on the town.

The applicants are now required to submit a revised environmental impact statement that will include the type and locations of all feedstock sources. The locations of pig slurry sources to serve the plant must also be identified.

The developers have six months to respond to the request for further information about their plans.