The Planned Biogas Plant in Gort – An explainer

After almost a 2 year wait,on the 22nd of December, An Bord Pleanala decided to overturn Galway County Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a large-scale Biogas plant on the immediate outskirts of Gort Co. Galway. This decision will have brutal impacts on Gort town and the local environment as the Biogas plant is set to go ahead.

This industrial biogas plant (think of it as a massive stomach) , will be developed on a 25 acre site. The town of Kinvara could fit inside it. It will have the following process

  • Take delivery of 90,000 tonnes/year of ‘feedstock’ such as slurry, food compost, fish waste and silage
  • Digest this in 8 massive digester tanks and produce Methane, Carbon Dioxide and other chemicals such as Hydrogen Sulphide, Nitrous Oxide , Ammonia etc
  • This process will produce offensive odours within the process
  • Store and export 150,000 tonnes/annum of the digested slurry or digestate
  • Spread this on land in vicinity of the plant – This equates to spreading almost 2 Olympic- sized swimming pools of smelly slurry-digestate on land in South Galway/North Clare every week.

Anerobic digesters are a key part of our Climate Action Plan but there are some key issues that we have in this location.

  • The location is completely wrong for an industrial sized biogas plant, in terms of it’s access to feedstock, size and proximity to local population, local amentities and its proximity to Coole Park nature reserve and SACS, These should be located to feedstock sources.
  • There are key health concerns for locating this facility so close to a town (100m to nearest residence, 50m from Gort River Walk, 400m to nearest housing estate and 900m from Gort Town Centre/Square). Biogas plants produce Nitrous Oxide, Ammonia, Sulpher Dioxide many of which are harmful to human health. Biogas plants can explode.
  • There are traffic, and health and safety concerns as this facility will bring 6,000-7000 HGVs into Gort per year. This may cause havoc on the towns roads, increase risk of traffic accidents and bring more fumes and noise into the town
  • This will make town and environs smelly – from escaped odours of the plant to the spreading of 2 olympic-sized swimming pools of smelly digestate per week. This will have the most pervasive and impactful effect on the town e.g.
  • The town and and local economy will be severely impacted – tourism will plummet – accommodation, restaurants, services. House values will plummet. People will not want to live or locate their business in town. The culture of the town will be forever changed. Welcome to ‘smelly Gort’ and
  • The local environment will be at risk. An explosion or spill into the Gort River (10m from plant) will reach Kitartan and Coole Park and would have catastrophic impacts. Digestate on land will increase levels of pollution in South Galway
  • The plant could suck Gort Town dry of water. Our fragile water system couldn’t take heavy water demands from this type of plant. The town supply is at near critical level and the infrastructure simply isn’t there to meet the additional demand of such a facility.
  • There are national rural concerns here also because these plants will try and locate themselves close to infrastructure and they won’t take local towns concerns into consideration.

The community around South Galway is devastated that after all the work done and Galway County Council’s refusal that this is being allowed to go ahead and deal a horrendous blow to the future of Gort and South Galway. The general consensus of the South Galway community is that if this development goes ahead it will absolutely ruin the town and surrounding environs and have impacts on peoples lifestyles, health and businesses around South Galway (especially the tourism industry)

Please help us protect it now and into the future. Please support or fundraiser to mount our legal challenge to overthrow An Bord Pleanala’s decision to grant planning permission.

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About David Murray

Dave is a 'Solution Architect' and distinguished engineer with a hi-tech company called Arm. He is deeply involved in his community and his two key focuses are based around the rivers of South Galway. He is an activist in getting flood relief solutions in place for South Galway after decades of empty promises and also is also helping to progress a beautiful Gort River Walk for the South Galway/North Clare communities.

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