The deadline for objections to the proposed extension at the Glenfin facility is November 18
Residents living in the vicinity of a proposed extension to an anerobic digester plant outside Ballybofey have been urged to lodge objections with An Bord Pleanála before Monday next, November 18.
The development, which is situated on a one-hectare site at Glenmore Estate, at Aghaveagh, on the main road to Glenfin, has emerged as a contentious issue and indeed according to locals, has divided the community for and against the idea.
An information meeting organised by the Glenfin Area Council (GAC) last Monday night saw a heated exchange of views on the proposal to extend the plant.
The gathering heard from the chairman of the Glenfin Area Council, Michael Tourish and its secretary, Florence Blackburn on why the meeting was called.
They said while they encouraged anyone who brought employment to the area, they also felt that when such a venture did not meet with local good, it was their duty to give both sides an opportunity to raise their concerns.
Ethna Kennedy gave a brief history of why the Glenmore Action Group had come into being and outlined its concerns claiming the development was not in keeping with the area.
“It has been a long and difficult journey and we feel we've been coming up against a brick wall. We made phone calls, sent letters and e-mails to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Donegal County Council, county councillor but really they've been of little help,” she said.
Ms Kennedy explained how the anerobic digester was first refused by the council due to environmental and visual impacts concerns in 2011 but later granted and capacities increased from the original application.
She outlined the extent of the latest planning application adding it had morphed from a small development into one of an industrial magnitude.
“This is on an elevated site and is a high risk to the river with any spills or explosions as happened in numerous plants in Germany and elsewhere. There is also the problem of surface water, noise, traffic, light pollution and strong smells and emissions from the plant. It's not right for people to have to live with this,” she said.
So far she said they had 127 objections to the extension plans as well as 14 other separate objections. Planning permission had been granted by the council but two appeals against this have gone into An Bord Pleanála.
Another Glenmore Action Group member, Gerry Doherty, said he feared that as no one government agency or monitoring authority appeared to have sufficient overall understanding or authority to enable them to resolve the problems they were presently experiencing, they felt powerless.
“There are some residents that suffer adverse health symptoms which the planning and environmental authorities simply dismissed. We would like answers before the anerobic digester takes over the community completely; is our future health being compromised and by how much; why is our local council failing to take action against a statutory nuisance, the odour hanging over us; how should digesters be tested and monitored prior to spreading on our precious land and who is going to monitor the land spreading ratios?
“One authority seems to be passing it to the other,” he claimed.
There followed a heated exchange of views with several local farmers saying they could not claim to be making a living as farmers the way thing were at present.
One of them, William James Sidney Patton, claimed farmers in the community were "disappearing like snow off a ditch" and if the Glenmore Estate could provide jobs for young farmers that might keep small farms from going under.
Further exchanges from the floor of the meeting about the merits of the plant's contribution against its perceived negative effects on the river, property prices, employment and road infrastructure continued until the meeting was halted when GAC chairperson, Ms Blackburn said they would not allow the meeting to become a vehicle for "personal attacks".
The meeting ended with local people being urged to submit concerns to An Bord Pleanála by Monday next.
A spokesman for the developer, Pauric Tague, said the company acknowledged that some locals had concerns but the company was planning for these through their new extension proposals.
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