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*Thomas Griffin David Griffin Vicky Cassley Mary Quinlivan and Louise McNamara all spoke publicly of their opposition to the plans. Photograph: Joe Buckley

Clare County Council has given the green light to the construction of a biomass plant in Stonehall in spite of considerable objections in the locality.

Last September, Carbon Sole Group Ltd lodged plans for the construction of a biomass processing and storage area utilising forestry plants, the construction of a gasification and methanation plant for the production of advanced biofuels, construction of a gasification and combined heat power.

According to the company, the plant can offset one million tonnes of carbon over fifteen years and will be able to offer carbon free heating to businesses in Shannon and potentially homes in the town.

Sean Daly, CEO of the company said that the development will lead to an investment of millions of euros on local forestry.

48 permanent jobs are to be created at the plant with a further 100 in harvesting and haulage while there will be 60 to 80 persons employed in the construction phase of the project.

Opposition had been voiced locally since plans were put before the Council. 400 signatures from locals and more than 30 submissions were presented to the local authority.

Clean Air Shannon and Stonehall National School were among the groups to object to the plans. Proximity to the school which has roughly 120 students was identified as a concern with a feared impact of increased traffic levels to efforts to promote walking and cycling to school.

Chairperson of the Board of Management, Louise McNamara told The Clare Echo, “The road is already congested. I don’t know if there are other suitable sites for a facility like this. Clare County Council needs to look at what the long-term objectives are of what has been submitted because it doesn’t add up”.

Senator Timmy Dooley (FF) and Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) also made submissions in relation to the development. O’Gorman believed the group water scheme servicing the site would be inadequate, “I also wish to raise my concern about the impact of flights in and out of the Airport in the event of a significant fire at the site”.

The Clare Echo understands that local groups are working on appealing the decision to An Bord Pleanála.

Ellen Carey executive planner and Gareth Ruane senior executive planner in a 24 page report detailed that an air quality assessment concluded that all of the residential sensitive receptors that predicted long-term levels of sulpher dioxide, nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and dust were all less than appropriate limit levels. They approved the development subject to fourteen conditions.

In their report, they outlined that the HSA confirmed that the location was not a SEVESO site. An extension to the water main will be required while it was noted that the existing use of the land was agricultural but that it was zoned for enterprise.

Prior to commencement, the developer has to make a contribution of €14,040.00 to Clare County Council in respect of public infrastructure and facilities benefiting development in the area.

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