THE attendance of Oireachtas members at Monday evening’s meeting of Kilclonfert residents opposed to a proposed planning application at Barnan, Daingean has brought the issue to a national level.
A large crowd gathered in Kilclonfert Community Centre to hear a presentation delivered by Elaine Dunne and Noel Moore informing locals about the problems they forsee if this planning application were to be granted.
Residents claim the planning notice is on the grounds of the Guessford recycling facility, which is built on Oxigen owned land, which would mean trespassing to see it.
To this end, a bus was provided to bring Barry Cowen TD, Senator John Whelan and local councillors to the facility to see for themselves.
Deputy Brian Stanley visited the site the previous Saturday and met with residents to hear their concerns.
“The roads are totally inadequate as they are too narrow with little or no margins. There are no passing bays to allow overtaking of trucks and the roads, already in poor condition, would be unable to cater for the increased volume of traffic.
“The proposed development is close to private residents who would suffer from the increased volume of noise and odours from the site. In addition there is a Special Area of Conservation within 1 km which could be at risk from water run-off from the site.
“For the above reasons I am opposed to this waste facility and I would ask Offaly County Council not to grant planning permission as the proposed development would be totally inappropriate for this area. Sinn Féin are in favour of re-cycling facilities but there are more suitable locations in the county for a facility such as this,” outlined Deputy Stanley.
Elaine Dunne explained to the ‘Offaly Express’ the key issues residents have with the proposed handling of municipal waste at the plant.
She said Barnan has been described as ‘open countryside’ in the Offaly County Development Plan 2009-2015 and has not been identified as a Sraid. Therefore she asked why this area has been the identified site for a development of this type.
She said there is no Waste Management Strategy for the Midlands, as the last plan ran out in 2010 and residents are questioning what are Offaly County Council’s proposal for the future in terms of municipal waste.
Ms Dunne said water supply and the effect the proposed handling of municipal waste would have on it, is a big issue, as there are no group water schemes in the area and locals have their own wells.
However, she said the biggest issue is road safety. “The network of local roads serving this site do not have the capacity to facilitate the traffic levels which will result from this development. It can be shown that the passage of a single standard axle causes approximately as much damage as the passage of 5,000 cars,” said Ms Dunne.
In an effort to show the increase in the volume of traffic on the roads, residents carried out a road traffic survey on Thursday and Friday of last week.
Ms Dunne said while local traffic movements accounted for 70 trips on Thursday, traffic going into the recycling facility accounted for 119 trips. Likewise on Friday local traffic accounted for 51 trips while recycling facility traffic accounted for 95 trips.
She said the road is already in disrepair and if a car meets a HGV on the road, it only has 4 feet to fit past.
Ms Dunne outlined that concern had also been expressed by a number of clubs in the area, such as the cycling and gun clubs who use the roads for their activities.
Another major issue residents have with the planning permission is its proximity to Raheenmore Bog, a designated are of national and international importance. “This is the deepest raised bog in Ireland and is protected under an EU directive. The site is only half a kilometre from where Croghan man was found in 2003. What is the rationale of Offaly County Council in putting things in areas of vulnerability?” said Ms Dunne.
She also spoke of concerns about noise pollution and an increase in rodents.
In conclusion she said if permission is granted for the handling of municipal waste it will no longer be “a quaint rural countryside area”.
“When planning for our family homes in Barnan, this wasn’t a factor,” she added.
A public information meeting will be held tonight in Daingean to inform locals about the residents’ concerns.
The meeting will take place in Town Hall and begins at 8pm.