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PLANS to construct a new sewage treatment system in Islandmcgrath, Clarecastle has met strong opposition from locals.

Residents in the Lissane area have grown hugely concerned about potential impacts the construction of the new plant could have on the area, namely in relation to increased traffic on the road, odour, damage to local habitats and decreases in property values for homes located close to the chosen sight.

Submissions from 15 individuals have been received by the Planning Authority in relation to the development.

For local resident Mags McMahon, the development represents “a huge shame” for the local environment, “this is a beautiful area of countryside out here and it’s just next to the Fergus estuary which is a conservation area. The sight itself is proposed to have a concrete septic tank within meters of the road which is part of the mid Clare way. It’s a narrow road, it’ll be difficult to park trucks, it’ll be completely spoiled,” she said.

However, an environmental impact assessment (EAI) undertaken by Burke Environmental Services on behalf of Clare Drains Environmental Ltd. doesn’t agree with the residents’ ecological concerns, saying “it can be concluded that there will be no significant direct or indirect impacts on the receiving environment by virtue of the proposed development of lands at the sight in Islandmcgrath. It is important to note that any works will be undertaken in accordance with a Planning Permission or Waste Permit. The likelihood of this development impacting on the relative abundance, quality, availability or regenerative capacity of natural resources in the area is negligible”.

McMahon argues, “I disagree with the [EAI], they did the screening but it is my opinion it would need the full assessment.

“The field is full of forestry at the moment, the area they are proposing which would have to be completely levelled for the wetlands is actually the old part of the forestry, it’s 30 years old, the plan shows a huge amount would have to be ripped out”.

The report doesn’t broach one of the most significant environmental concerns of the locals, flooding. In the original planning application submitted by Clare Drains Environmental Ltd, the company said that to the best of their knowledge, the sight in question had never been flooded. This is a major point of contention for the locals who say it is in fact a flood plain.

In 2011, according to Marie Connors, a landowner in the area, she was refused planning permission to build a house on a sight she owns adjacent to the proposed sewage development because of flooding risks.

“We are below sea level here, certainly at high tide we are below sea level. This is a flood plain. You can’t get planning permission for houses here anymore because of this,” said McMahon.

On top of the flooding concerns, Lissane locals have raised questions over the soil. In Connors’ objection she also references planning applications submitted by her father, Paddy Connors, in 1980 and 1989 at which time percolation tests showed the ground to be permeable. The planning report submitted by Clare Drains Environmental Ltd. says that blue grey estuarine silt-clay underlying the sight “provides an effective sealed basin in which the wetlands can be constructed” and is “extremely suited to the creation of impermeable basins”.

Clare Drains Environmental Ltd. did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Clare County Council are due to decide on the application within the next three weeks but for the Lissane locals even a decision against them won’t mean the end of their fight, “If it’s confirmed they will get planning, I’d say yes we will appeal” said McMahon “I think all they can do is withdraw”.

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