Tuam residents are to air their concerns regarding a proposed biogas and anaerobic digestion facility in Airglooney Business Park at an oral hearing to be held by An Bord Pleanála later this month.
The planned facility at the former site of the sugar beet factory on the Ballygaddy Road would generate renewable energy through a process known as anaerobic digestion, which breaks down organic input materials in the absence of oxygen to create methane gas or biogas.
It is estimated that the development will generate 50 to 60 jobs during the construction phase and support ten to 15 jobs, both drivers and on-site staff, in the operational phase.
According to planning documents submitted to Galway County Council, the proposed facility would have the capacity to power approximately 1,746 homes or 85 per cent of households in Tuam.
The documents also state that, in its operational phase, the plant will produce 1.6MW of electricity from biodegradable products that would normally be diverted to landfill sites.
The development by Bernard Hynes was given the go-ahead by county planners last July subject to 15 conditions, including a requirement that finalised proposals be submitted for the materials or feedstocks to be used at the plant, which may include energy crops, agricultural slurries and residues or organic wastes, and a further assessment of “specific odour risks” resulting from them.
However, the council’s decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by local residents and businesses, including Airglooney Residents’ Association Connacht Wool Tuam Limited, St Coleman’s Anglers’ Association, and Tuam Biogas Concern Group.
Initially due to take place in early December, an oral hearing is now scheduled to begin at 10am on Tuesday 22 January at Ard Rí House Hotel, Tuam.
Appellants have requested clarification regarding the feedstocks that will be used at the plant, and raised concerns regarding potential air pollutants produced by the facility and their impact on residents and students at the five national schools and four secondary schools within two kilometres of the plant.
In addition, concerns have been raised regarding potential bad odours from both the facility and materials being delivered to it, and any increase in the volume of HGV traffic in the area.
The site is 60 metres south of the River Clare, part of the Lough Corrib Special Area of Conservation, and local residents and St Coleman’s Anglers’ Association have also raised concerns regarding the possibility of river pollution in the area.
An Bord Pleanála were expected to finalise their decision on the future of the proposed development by 14 February but this date is now expected to be revised following the planned oral hearing.