Biomass plant proposed for Foynes to create 60 jobs

BORD na Mona is planning to invest up to €20m and create 60 new permanent jobs by building a new smokeless fuel and biomass fuel plant on its existing site in Foynes.

The company lodged its planning application with Limerick City and County Council last Friday, along with an Environmental Impact Statement and a Natura Impact Statement.

If the company gets its planning permission, it says that a further 140 jobs will be created during construction.

The Bord na Mona proposal is the second smokeless fuel plant being proposed for Foynes and also comes in the wake of a proposal to develop a gasifcation plant at the former landfill site of Gortnadroma.

If all three projects proceed, they would generate over 300 jobs plus jobs during construction.

Two years ago, CPL Fuels Ltd announced plans to invest €22m and create 140 jobs to manufacture smokeless fuel in the former Koala plant in Foynes. But a series of planning delays and objections meant the company did not get the green light for its plans until last February.

The company has remained silent this week about Bord na Mona’s proposal and did not respond to a number of requests for comment from the Limerick Leader.

However, last August, the company’s chief executive Tim Minett took issue with Bord na Mona because they had lodged objections to the CPL planning application.

“I think it is very disappointing that a semi-state body is objecting to the development of a plant that is creating jobs,” Mr Minett told the Limerick Leader at the time. “In my view, their objection is commercially driven.”

He also warned at the time that the continued delays in the planning process could jeopardise the project and, although Foynes remained its number one choice, the company had looked at sites in Northern Ireland.

CPL Fuels finally got the go-ahead earlier this year when an appeal from An Taisce was withdrawn. But it is unclear whether Mr Minett’s deadline of being in production by the end of 2015 still holds.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Bord na Mona pointed out that the company had opted for Foynes “as the optimum location” for this development, where it already has a significant coal storage and bagging operation on the docks.

“As an Irish semi-state company, Bord na Móna is pursuing a sustainable business strategy. This means that the proposed development at Foynes will help secure employment in the region in a business that is both commercially and increasingly environmentally sustainable,” he said.

When asked about their objection to the CPL Fuels plan, the spokesman said: “Bord na Móna did not have an objection to the development of a smokeless coal plant. The company did not consider it was appropriate that a development of that nature and scale should proceed without a full Natura Impact Study (NIS).”

In their opinion, this study was essential so that potential environmental impacts and operational impacts would be considered.

“Bord na Móna brought its observation regarding the NIS to Limerick County Council. Limerick County Council subsequently requested that the NIS be undertaken,” the spokesman said.

The company will source its biomass material from Ireland and abroad in line with sustainable principles, he explained and added that the company had considerable experience in sourcing biomass supply-chains.

He added that Shannon Foynes Port Company fully supported Bord na Móna’s existing operations and its proposed development.

The earliest that any planning decision can be made is August 20.