Continued community opposition to Barr's Pit asphalt plant

Heritage Department concerns about Natura Impact Study

Asphalt Plant

Burnfoot community opposing proposed Scalp asphalt plant

A Donegal community actively opposing a proposed asphalt plant development at Barr's Pit quarry in Gortnaskea in Burnfoot, has welcomed an intervention by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Moyle Plant Limited is currently seeking planning permission for the asphalt plant from Donegal County Council.

The company has now requested a further three months to comply fully with the additional information requested by planners, following an observation from the Development Applications Unit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The final date for the submission of this information is March 7, 2021.

Speaking to Donegal Live, a spokesperson for 'South Inishowen Against Asphalt' said the development, at the foot of Scalp mountain, would be “extremely damaging to our community”.

They added: “We were happy to see the intervention made by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in the issue. We are sure this was a big contributing factor to Donegal Council seeking further information on the proposed development.”

In a letter to Donegal County Council regarding the proposed asphalt plant, the Development Applications Unit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said: “Outlined below are heritage-related observations/recommendations co-ordinated by the Development Applications Unit. Nature Conservation: These observations are intended to assist you in meeting the obligations that may arise in relation to nature conservation, biodiversity and European sites in the context of the current application.

“With regard to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): It is recommended that the proposed development is assessed for the requirement to undertake an EIA and/or screening for EIA. Subject to the outcome of the above and that a minimum of an Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is prepared for the proposed development.

“No reference is made to the quantity and nature of chemicals and/or materials to be used and stored on site. The composition of the proposed Asphalt end product is unclear and it is not stated whether artificial mineral fibre or similar substances will be incorporated in the asphalt process. Asphalt (e.g. liquid bitumen) is a, black or brown petroleum-like material that has a consistency varying from viscous liquid to glassy solid. It is obtained either as a residue from the distillation of petroleum or from natural deposits. Asphalt consists of compounds of hydrogen and carbon with minor proportions of nitrogen and sulphur.

“These substances are potentially harmful to aquatic habitats and species and risks associated with their transport, storage and use should be assessed.

“The source of aggregate materials is unclear, the storage and transport of aggregate and Asphalt compounds to and from the site should be assessed with regard to potential environmental risk.

“With regard to Biodiversity: In keeping with the EU’s target to halt biodiversity loss by 2020, specific quantified references should be made in development applications to ensure that the project does not adversely impact biodiversity and/or result in biodiversity loss.

“Accordingly, any losses of biodiversity habitat associated with this proposed development (including access roads and drainage) such as wetlands, stream/river banks, scrub, hedgerows and other habitats should be quantified in the first instance, then mitigated and compensated for.”

Referring to the Natura Impact Statement (NIS) the Department said that there were “concerns” about the NIS prepared by Greentrack Environmental Consultants on behalf of the applicant Moyle Plant Limited.

It said: “The Natura Impact Statement contains insufficient evidence of appropriate detail to underpin the conclusion of no likely significant effects. More specifically, the Department is concerned that the direct hydrological link between the development site (Drumhaggart stream) and the Burnfoot and Skeoge Rivers that flow into the coastal lagoon at Inch levels is insufficiently mitigated. Coastal lagoon habitat [1150] at Inch levels is a Qualifying Interest for the Lough Swilly Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

“The lagoon is also a key site that supports many of the Special Conservation Interests (SCI) for Lough Swilly SPA (site code 004075). 1. The findings of the three water quality samples reported are noted and it is recommended that further testing is undertaken to assess water quality at the following locations: 1) where the Drumhaggart stream meets the Burnfoot river, 2) 250m - 500m downstream of this point and 3) 500m -1km downstream of point 1 (above) in the Burnfoot river.”

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