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Saturday 26th April 2003

Incinerator plan scrapped, opponents welcome decision

by Aodhan O Faolain

  • The row over the construction of a controversial meat and bonemeal incinerator in South Tipperary's Golden Vale has come to an end after the developer decided not to go ahead with the project.

    After what was a sometimes bitter and costly affair, the battle has ended amicably as National By-Products decided to pull out of the project due to the Ronan family's concern about "the serious divisions that have arisen in the local community where five generations of the family have lived and worked."

    Opponents of the project, which included trainer Aidan O'Brien and Coolmore Stud owner Mr John Magnier as well as many thousands of people living in the locality, have expressed their relief that this row which has dominated life in Golden Vale has come to a conclusion.

    As a result of the announcement Coolmore Stud and Ballydoyle have decided to drop their legal action against the Ronan Industries existing operation at Rosegreen.

    It is understood that both sides will bear their own costs in what has been an expensive and high profile battle, which commenced last May when South Tipperary Co Council granted permission for the construction of an incinerator at Rosegreen.

    Sources close to the respective parties agreed that the process would have taken years before there was any definitive decision on whether or not the incinerator would get the go ahead. It was also conceded that the matter would have eventually ended up in the European Court.

    While none of the sources were able to put an exact figure on how much this row has cost, it was conceded that the respective parties may have had to pay substantial amounts of money in legal fees before the matter would have come to a conclusion.

    Local politicians who were opposed to the construction of the incinerator have also welcomed the decision.

    Last Friday The Ronan family, who own National By Products, announced that that they were not going ahead with plans to build a meat and bonemeal incinerator at Rosegreen. They have withdrawn both their planning and IPC applications.

    "Ronans are a local family which have been engaged in business in Rosegreen for generations, and they do not wish to see a continuation of divisions within the local community and between neighbours. They particularly regret that the Ronan family were directly targeted by opponents of the project," a spokesperson for the family stated.

    Despite their decision Ronan Industries reiterated that the Rosegreen project was based on sound environmental principals, and that it would not have any adverse effect on the local area or the people living there.

    Chairman of the South Tipperary Anti-Incinerator Campaign Mr. Seamus Hayes welcomed the decision. It brought to an end what had been a difficult period for many people in the locality.

    Over the last few days people involved with STAIC have been taking down the signs and posters in the South Tipperary area expressing their opposition to the proposed development.

    "I am happy that Ronan industries have decided not to go forward with the incinerator. There is a lot of relief locally that this is over," stated Mr. Hayes, who admitted that there was something in the pipeline prior to last week's announcement.

    Any tensions in the community caused by this row were regrettable. Mr Hayes was quick to point out that their campaign was simply about their opposition to the development.

    "This battle was always against the building of an incinerator at Rosegreen and no other issue," continued the STAIC chairman, who added that the group were not in the business about causing any acrimony.

    He thanked all those who were involved in the campaign against the incinerator. He pointed out that it was not just the high profile figures in the horse racing industry who were against the project.

    Thousands of ordinary people, as well as a number of major businesses that did not want to go public, contributed towards their campaign.

    "We (STAIC) were in limbo for the last number of months as we were waiting to see what happening in relation to the High Court case, " continued Mr. Hayes.

    Once those legal matters were cleared-up Bord Pleanála was due to hold an Oral Hearing as part of the objectors appeal against the Council's original decision to allow the incinerator go ahead.

    He concluded by stating that STAIC, who put a lot of time and energy into researching this topic are as convinced as ever that meat and bonemeal incineration is not necessary in Ireland.

    Coolmore and Castlehyde Stud farms and world famous race horse trainer Aidan O'Brien said in a statement that the Ronans are to be congratulated on this decision, which they added will help restore harmony in this close-knit and vibrant community.

    'We are sorry if the Ronan family felt personally targeted during a campaign which was intense and at times heated,' said Mr. O'Brien.

    In the spirit of co-operation and goodwill, which has now been reestablished they have decided to drop their legal action, unrelated to the incinerator, against National ByProducts operations at Rosegreen.

    This battle commenced back in May of 2OO2 when South Tipperary County Council granted planning permission for a meat and bonemeal incinerator at Rosegreen.

    Many people and businesses in the locality were angry and upset about that decision and a group was set up to prevent the development from going ahead.

    The multi-million euro horse racing industry were also against an incinerator being built on their doorstep, and Aidan O'Brien had threatened to relocate the world famous Ballydoyle stables if the incinerator was built.

    Last year Mr. O'Brien and Coolmore Stud were successful in their bid to get South Tipperary County Council's decision reviewed by the High Court- where up to last week the matter remained parked.

    This brings to an end the possibility that meat and bonemeal would be incinerated in South Tipperary; however one party in this row felt that "somebody, somewhere will try to build a facility like the one proposed for Rosegreen".

    Whether what happened in South Tipperary will have any bearing on other similar applications remains to be seen.


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