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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Shutterstock/Jason Winter The burning of tyres would be possible under the plans

Decision to grant Irish Cement licence to burn alternative fuels delayed after 3,500 objections

The number of objections from the public “continues to rise”, a spokesperson for the EPA said.

A DECISION ON the granting of a controversial license to Irish Cement, which would allow the company to burn alternative fuels, including used tyres, has been delayed due to a long list of objections from the public.

Over 3,500 objections have been submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A decision on the granting of the licence had been scheduled for last week.

A spokeswoman for the EPA said the agency had received 3,578 submissions “and that continues to rise”.

Last March, Irish Cement was granted planning permission for a proposed development at its cement plant in Mungret, Co Limerick, for works which would facilitate the company to burn solid fuel waste.

The company currently burns fossil fuels in its production of cement.

Despite a wave of public protests and an appeal to An Bord Pleanala the company was given the green light to press ahead with its plans.

However, the proposed development hinges on the EPA’s decision on whether or not to grant a licence allowing the company use alternative fuels.

The EPA said the decision has been postponed to 4 November, however a spokesperson said it make take longer to reach a conclusion as it is a “very complex case”.

“The decision date is currently 4 November. However this is a very complex case with thousands of submissions, so this date may well be moved,” the EPA spokesperson said.

‘Fugitive dust’

In one submission, an objector highlighted a recent prosecution against Irish Cement at Limerick District Court for a breach of its industrial emissions licence.

The company was convicted and fined €1,250 on 6 July last, after it pleaded guilty to two charges. Limerick District Court heard “fugitive dust” leaked from the Mungret plant, and caused damage to cars and property in a neighbourhood near the Mungret plant.

Further objections relate to concerns over any potential health and safety risk to humans and or the surrounding environment.

Irish Cement has consistently maintained its proposed plans do not pose a threat to human health or the environment.

The company previously stated the proposed plan to burn alternative fuels are “essential to ensure the long-term viability” of the Mungret plant.

“It is currently the only cement factory in Ireland not using alternative fuels…it is one of the last in Europe not to be availing of these fuels,” it said.

The proposed development would also protect 80 jobs and lead to job growth, the company added.

“Replacing fossil fuels in cement factories is standard practice throughout Europe, and is in line with European, national, and regional waste management policy,” the company stated.

“Irish Cement already uses alternative fuels in our sister plant in Platin, Co Meath.”

The proposed changes at the Mungret plant would “reduce the company’s dependence on fossil fuels, (and) will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 40,000 tonnes per year”, it added.

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