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Concern over proposal for 'massive' increase in waste intake at Meath landfill

The planning application proposes an increase in the waste intake from 88,000 tonnes a year to 440,000 a year.

RESIDENTS LIVING NEAR a landfill in Co Meath have expressed concern about a proposal to significantly increase the amount of waste it takes in and to expand its operations.

The firm behind the development, Fehily Timoney & Company, applied on 12 December for planning permission for a number of changes to the Knockharley Landfill site.

The proposal has been met by strong opposition from residents who are worried about the impact of the increased activity at the landfill on their lives and environment.

They are also concerned that these proposals, if approved, would extend the lifespan of the landfill. The application made to An Board Pleanala includes:

  • An increase in the waste intake from 88,000 tonnes a year to 440,000 a year;
  • An increase in the overall height of the landfill;
  • The construction and operation of an incinerator bottom ash facility which would accept up to 150,000 tonnes a year;
  • The construction and operation of a biological treatment building to treat 25,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste each year;
  • The intake of up to 5,000 tonnes of stable non-reactive hazardous waste each year. 

Local resident Paul Walsh told TheJournal.ie said he believes the scale of the proposals “doesn’t make sense”. 

“I don’t understand where this massive jump has come from.”

Walsh is worried about the inclusion of “hazardous waste” as he said residents have not been told what exactly this will mean.

He said people living in the vicinity of the landfill have made complaints to the Environmental Protection Agency over the years – usually about odour – but they do not feel enough action has been taken to address their grievances.

“People think there’s no point complaining anymore.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Claire O’Driscoll said increasing the tonnage at the landfill will ultimately “increase the level of nuisance”.

“The tonnage used to be 132,000 [tonnes per year] and reducing it to 88,000 did cause an improvement. Then in 2016 there was more tonnage going in and that created nuisance – odour and noise are the main side effects. ”

With this plan they want to put in a biological treatment plant and that will be operational 24/7 whereas the general processing of waste is just the core hours.

“From a policy point of view I just feel it is a real retrograde step, we’ve been working for years towards reducing landfill use.”

O’Driscoll said a landfill is supposed to have an end-date and this proposal would significantly expand the lifespan of the site if developments like the biological treatment plant and the storage of baled recyclable waste are added.

The locals have been expecting that eventually the work there would come to an end. And there are people who bought homes in recent years with the expectation that it would close after 15 years.

She also said a man at a recent community meeting said he had decided not to send his son to the local school because of its proximity to the plant.

“The biological treatment facility proposed on the south end of the site is just a few fields away from the playground of the school and there is a 20 metre stack associated with that.”

O’Driscoll said members of the public have until close of business today to make a submission on the proposals to An Bord Pleanala.

Contribution to local community

A spokesperson for Fehily Timoney & Company, said the waste types which would be accepted as part of the proposed extended development are “the same as those currently accepted with the additional of two new waste types”.

These are; stable non-reactive hazardous waste (maximum 5,000 tonnes per annum) and the contingency storage of baled recyclable waste.

“Planning permission was first granted in 2002 and the facility has operated in Kentstown since 2004 under a licence from the Environmental Protection Agency,” they said.

“To date, it has contributed €2.5 million to local community and voluntary groups as well as sporting clubs and societies.”

Meath County Council said as this a Strategic Infrastructure Development, the decision “is a matter for An Bord Pleanála”.

“As part of the council’s statutory role in the process, a report will be prepared and presented to the full council at its March meeting. The report together with any contributions from the elected councillors must be submitted to An Bord Pleanála by 19th March. “

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