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Residents object to new tar plant following blaze

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BITUMEN FIRE Black smoke bellows from a fire at Roadstone's plant at Castlebar on Thursday, April 19. Pic: Michael Lacey


Ciara Galvin

RESIDENTS of Moneen, Castlebar have lodged objections against a planning permission which has been granted to Roadstone Limited, days after a fire at its plant last month.
Over 200 signatures have been collected and submitted to the council in a document outlining residents and individuals’ reasons for objections to planning permission for a new asphalt (tarmacadam) plant at Castlebar Quarry, Moneenbradagh, which was granted four days after a fire gutted the tar plant.
Planning was granted for the plant which will contain a stack, measuring 34 metres in height to dispel emissions, along with storage bays and storage shed. Plans were in place to decommission the old plant before the fire took place. The planning permission is subject to 23 conditions.
The document, seen by The Mayo News, states that residents in townlands surrounding the plant only became aware of planning permission for a new plant after gardaí called to their homes on April 19, during the fire, to advise them to close all windows and doors of their properties, alerting them to ‘hazardous fumes’ from the bitumen fire.
It outlined that the council should consider residents’ objections for a number of reasons, including the failure to post the planning site notice on the boundary within the townland of Aghalusky, resulting in residents not seeing the application, therefore not allowing them to submit observations or objections.
The document states that if the council do not accept the petition, residents will request a ‘leave to appeal’ to An Bord Pleanála allowing them to appeal the decision by the council, without having made submissions or observations to the planning authority.

Concerned residents
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday (Monday), Moneen resident Dr John Canavan said residents in the area were not aware of the planning notice for the new plant and are concerned about what the proposed chimney stack will be emitting.
“What will it [stack] be spewing out? We have contacted An Bord Pleanála, Mayo County Council and local representatives,” said Mr Canavan, whose house is approximately 300 metres from one side of the old plant.
Mr Canavan said people in the area near the plant became ‘alarmed’ on the day of the fire when gardaí told them to ensure windows and doors were closed.
“I could smell it but I don’t know what was coming out of it … It was an unusual step for the guards to contact us.”
Mr Canavan said that when there are explosions at the quarry his house shakes and that residents are worried about cracks in their houses.
“The new plant will apparently produce 240 tonnes an hour and a gale force of eight will spew out stuff from the chimney,” said Dr Canavan.
At the recent monthly Castlebar Municipal District meeting, Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne asked for a report to be drawn up, from the fire section of Mayo County Council, in relation to how the fire started and if it could have been prevented. Cllr Frank Durcan told the meeting that one house will be located just 70 metres from the planned site and that planning was granted ‘behind everyone’s back’.
John McHale, of Mayo County Council told the meeting that ‘due process was followed’ and that council planners had walked the site of the new plant.

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