A sign erected in the locality.

Objections to east Mayo biogas facility proposals

RESIDENTS in Swinford have voiced concern about plans for an agricultural biogas renewable energy facility.

Road access and safety, odours, emissions and the pollution risk to the Spaddagh River were among the issues raised at a public information meeting hosted by the Swinford Biogas Concern Group.

They believe the proposed location is not suitable - the nearest home is less than 200 metres away.

To-date, over 1,200 people have signed a petition against the plant, which is proposed to be constructed by local-based Moy Valley Biogas on a site adjacent to the old town dump at Lislackagh and Carrowbaun, just off the N5 outside Swinford.

The Gateway Hotel was packed to capacity for Friday night's information meeting which heard from a number of locals who have formed the committee, as well as a representative from an action group in Gort who are opposing a planned development there - the largest biogas facility in the country.

Action group spokespersons were clear that they are not against a biogas plant - it is the location that is unsuitable, they say, being in close proximity to people's homes and two kilometres from the town centre.

They urged local people to get informed about the project - maps and drawings and information were available at the meeting - and if they have concerns, to make their submissions to Mayo County Council before August 16.

An application for planning permission is currently before the council for consideration.

On traffic hazard, the meeting was told the plant will involve 50 vehicle movements each day, 25 of which are HGVs, in addition to existing traffic, to be routed via the old Castlebar Road. The old bog road access to the N5 will not be used.

Three-quarters of the traffic will come through the town and it was felt the impact on traffic in the town had not been adequately addressed.

The old bog road is a narrow route, popular with runners, walkers and cyclists, and the committee questioned how it will accommodate 25 HGVs every day.

There was concern that any arising odours could be carried by south-southwesterly winds into the town, with homes closer the plant - 250 metres away - also concerned about noise and air quality with flares, where toxins are burnt off when gas builds up.

The point was also made that the adjacent dump site, which operated for 30 years from the 1960s, has never been decommissioned by the council. The proposed new development would put pressure on that site and the adjoining Spaddagh River.