Cowen adds his name to objection list to renewable biogas facility in Offaly

Camilla McLoughlin

Reporter:

Camilla McLoughlin

Cowen adds his name to objection list to renewable biogas facility in Offaly

Site at Ballyduff for proposed biogas facility

BARRY Cowen TD has added his name to a long list of people objecting to a proposal from Strategic Power Ltd to develop a renewable biogas facility at Ballyduff, Tullamore.

Others on the list of objectors include Fianna Fail councillors Tony McCormack, Declan Harvey, and Danny Owens, Fine Gael's Neil Feighery, and Independent Sean O'Brien, the Clara road residents association, Rahan road residents and cluster households.

The proposal by the Dublin based company is for ''a renewable biogas facility which will inject biogas into the local GNI - Gas Networks Ireland network. Renewable biogas will be captured during anaerobic digestion of feedstocks, the gas will be upgraded to meet the necessary standards and then injected into the GNI pipe network.''

Those objecting say they are concerned about the potential for odour from the plant, the risk of vermin, increased traffic on the Rahan road, along with the prospect for noise as the plant will run 24/7.

The planned facility will accept approximately 50,000 tonnes of feedstock, such as silage, farmyard manure and chicken litter, that will primarily be sourced from local farms within 10 kilometres of the site. It will not accept any municipal waste.

''A by-product of the production process -digestate will be used as an organic bio-fertiliser which will be returned to the supply farms, fully closing the circular economy model and reducing the requirement for imported chemical/synthetic fertilisers,'' the company maintain.

A 'Non Technical Summary' report which accompanies the application states - ''The proposed development will operate inline with the principals of sustainability and presents an opportunity for Ireland to meet its renewable energy targets, as well as supporting the principles of the circular economy.''

The plant will employ between 4 to 5 people when operational and between 50 to 70 during construction. In addition, the company says a number of indirect jobs will be generated that would include roles for farming contractors and those in transportation. The majority of employees would be expected to come from the surrounding areas increasing employment levels and economic activity within county Offaly, the company claims.

If given permission the proposed development will be commissioned in early 2022. It will be manned over two 8 hour shifts during daytime hours. It will be remotely monitored during night time hours.

Strategic Power said it undertook a review of available locations across mainland Europe and Ireland. ''At the early stage it selected Ireland as its preferred option based on its high potential for biogas production. The EU found that Ireland has the highest potential for renewable gas production per capita in Europe. It determined that the Midlands region and in particular Tullamore has a high demand for gas and therefore was an optimum location for a proposed renewable gas facility.''

Demand for natural gas increased by 6.9 per cent in 2018. Currently Ireland imports ca. 42 per cent of natural gas requirements from Britain,

Strategic Power claim that ''the proposed development would contribute towards a domestic gas supply, reducing the dependency to import gas.''

It states that ''AD [anaerobic digester] is recognised by Offaly county council as a sustainable alternative source of energy production associated with the agricultural sector which can sustain agricultural production, employment and income. ''

The company claims the ''proposed development has been designed to ensure the abatement of odours. The feedstock reception hall will be enclosed and equipped with an odour abatement system. These measures will ensure that no significant odour emissions will arise from the proposed development. The Feedstock reception hall will also have fast closing roller shutter doors to prevent fugitive emissions.''

The site which is owned by Nicholas Molloy is located within an area zoned as industrial and flanks lands zoned as commercial to the north of the site.

A decision from Offaly county council on the proposal will be made known on September 16.