Aughinish Alumina get the green light to up production
Aughinish Alumina has been given the green-light to double the size of its red mud 'Ponds and to increase production by almost 20 per cent to 1.9 million tonnes a year.
The permission was granted by Limerick County Council this Tuesday amid dismay from some local individuals, groups and householders who are already galvanising to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanala.
"This is a sad day for everyone," Pat Geoghegan, the spokesman for the Cappagh Farmers Support Group· said this Wednesday. "This is a scandal that planning permission was given for this, given the size and extent of the new redmud ponds."
"It is an absolute disgrace but what would you expect? Aughinish were breaching their licence before this and the Council turned a blind eye," Mr Geoghegan declared.
When planning permission was initially sought by Aughinish, the Council, through the consultancy company TES, looked for supplementary information through a battery of questions.
"The answers left a lot to be desired," Mr Geoghegan said, adding that the Cappagh Farmers Group will be appealing the decision.
When Aughinish Alumina lodged its application last year, there were more than 20 objections, among them Foynes Community Council. A spokesman for the Council this Wednesday said there was concern in the area, mainly because of the size of the new mud ponds and their visual impact as well as the possible effects on the environment and the health of local people.
Under the terms of the planning permission, Aughinish Alumina can now deposit red-mud or
bauxite residue on an additional 80 hectares (approximately 180 acres or a quarter of the total plant area). It can also raise the l1eight of these deposits to more than 100 feet. In addition, the permission allows the company to retain its current production level of 1.6m tonnes of alumina a year and to increase it to 1.95m.
Limerick County Council has imposed 19 conditions on Aughinish Alumina, one of them being that all Co Council water storage tanks and exposed water treatment areas adjacent to the site must be covered. Others stipulate that the company must pay €87,520 in a development contribution levy, must carry out landscaping and must create artificial otter holts.
A Council spokesman said they were prohibited from imposing any specific environmental conditions relating to emissions, dust, etc. These lay within the remit of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), he said.
However, the Council has written to the EPA with a list of suggestions and recommendations to be taken on board when the agency reviews Aughinish's licence. The list includes recommendations from the consultants and from the Health Service Executive.