MAYO County Council officials have been accused of being "out of touch with the people of the county" after the High Court decision of Justice Mary Laffoy this week ruled that Glancre Teoranta needs planning permission for their sludge treatment plant in Geesala. The two-year dispute between the residents of Geesala and Glancre Teoranta, over the emission of strong odours from their sludge drying plant, was brought to an end after Justice Laffoy’s ruling on Monday evening and costs in the case will be awarded within a forthnight. The legal action stemmed from a petition brought by members of the Erris Action Group to An Bord Pleanala seeking a direction as to whether the Glancre plant, which was formerly operated by Norsk Hydro as a peat nugget manufacturing facility, required planning permission for the change of use to sludge drying operations and the manufacture of granulated "biosolids." Despite legal advice obtained by both Mayo County Council and Glancre Teoranta which indicated that the change from peat nugget manufacturing to sludge drying would not require a "change of use" planning application, residents in Geesala affected by the strong smells from the plant were adamant that this was not the case and there stance has been vindicated by the High Court ruling.
Perhaps now we will get some action too against other smells which impact on the people of the county – particularly the smell of slurry - which of course can be spread anywhere in the county without any planning permission. The bacteria and viruses and other pathogens associated with cattle excrement are well known to cause illness in humans. If you can smell it can the bugs and disease be far behind? Time to put the clampers on smells and disease spreading of all sorts – not just industrial variety which is only a drop in the ocean in comparison with the real smells in Mayo.
Anyone for tennis?
ONE of Castlebar’s most successful sports clubs is seeking the help of the Town Council to help it become one of most progressive of its kind in the country. Castlebar Tennis Club has developed at a rate of knots in recent years and now they are proposing to develop an eight court tennis village at Lough Lannagh Holiday Village in the town. Club Officials Tom Murphy, Diarmuid Gavin and Neil Ferriter attended a special meeting of the council last week with the main purpose being to seek support from the councillors for the development, which would be reliant on the authority donating two acres of land at Lough Lannagh. Mr. Tom Murphy from the Development and Finance Committee of the Club told the meeting a decision was needed from the council as soon as possible. The Tennis Club had a very strong history in Castlebar, Connaught and Irish tennis since it was established in the early 1950s but the club’s pavilion had now become dilapidated and was in need of a major renovation. "To renovate our pavilion would cost an arm and a leg. We would have to knock the building and start afresh and a recent costing showed it would be out of our means to do that," stated Mr. Murphy. The time was also opportune for the club to expand as it was going through a particularly successful period. The Irish inter provincial championship is to be played in Castlebar for the first time this year and up to 150 players participated in the annual August Bank Holiday competition at the club.
I wasn’t clear from reading the accounts whether the tennis club proposed a straight swap with the council – their current courts and clubhouse on Pavilion Road next to the library in exchange for a large two acre site down at Lough Lannagh. But it’s great to see tennis take off seriously in Castlebar. The players have gone from strength to strength and it is good to see the vision and confidence in the future displayed by the club.
Corrib decision imminent
THE decision on the planning application by Shell for a gas refinery at Bellanaboy in north Mayo is due around now. This is the third planning application for the project to clean the gas from the Corrib field off the Mayo coast and prepare it for the marketplace via a pipeline from north Mayo to Craughwell in Galway. The first application was with-drawn when it was discovered that the accompanying Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) submitted by Enterprise Energy Ireland Ltd contained serious flaws. The subsequent application was eventually granted by Mayo County Council only to be appealed to An Bord Pleanála. An oral hearing – spread over two two-week sessions – was held with the planning appeals board ruling last April that the application be refused. Four grounds were cited as of concern. At the time, Mayo County Council received a lot of criticism over the way it handled the application. The council had not sought outside assistance but relied on ‘in-house expertise’ to deal with the application. A reading of the An Bord Pleanála’s report is a sober reminder of the duties and responsibilities expected of people who work in such positions in councils. Last December, Shell, who took over Enterprise Energy Ireland Ltd, made another planning application, based mainly on removing up to 450,000 cubic metres of peat from the proposed site in Bellanaboy and depositing it some 7 kilometres away in a Bord na Móna owned bog in Shramore, on the outskirts of Bangor. Shell, like many people in the county, is awaiting the outcome of the decision by Mayo County Council.
Mayo County Council have granted planning permission again – so here we go again – appeal, public hearing, etc. etc. Liamy McNally justaposes the Corrib Gas issue with the current upheaval within Shell international which seems to have made a complete haimes of its finances. They have successively downgraded their oil reserves to more realistic (truthful) levels over the past months and some of the chief bottle washers in Shell have come a cropper and been fired. Put this together with the Pollatomas landslides (which dumped material into the sea along the path that the proposed pipeline would have run) and it makes for a very an interesting backdrop to the new Bellanaboy gas refining proposal.