Decision to allow Cork biogas facility on farmland upheld

An attempt by environmental group, An Taisce, to prevent a biogas plant being set up in Co. Cork has been unsuccessful.

An Bord Pleanála has upheld a decision by Cork County Council to grant planning permission for the replacement of agricultural structures at Corracunna and Garryleagh, Mitchelstown with a central gas injection facility.

The development is being spearheaded by Gas Networks Ireland.

Site location and development

The site of the proposed facility is located in a rural area about 3.5km outside the town of Mitchelstown in north Cork.

It comprises a level field of grass and contains a farm building on its west side, bounded by hedgerow. There is an existing Gas Networks Ireland above-ground installation on lands close to the site. 

The development will result in the demolition of the farm building and the construction of a central gas injection (CGI) facility within a site area of around 1.8ha.

The works will include a concrete apron; 16 truck bays; welfare / office facility; medium voltage substation; eight pressure reduction skid units; two boiler units; propane storage as well as ancillary units and equipment.

According to the company, the purpose of the facility is to accommodate the injection of biomethane gas into the national gas network.

It will facilitate smaller agricultural anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities through providing a common injection location, meaning the gas would be produced and processed off-site at AD facilities throughout the region with the expected volume of traffic estimated at 25 Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) per day.

Planning objection

Gas Networks Ireland sought planning permission from Cork County Council for the plant for a period of ten years.

Permission was granted by the local authority last summer with 22 conditions attached, but that decision was appealed by An Taisce, with Friends of the Irish Environment listed as an ‘observer’.

An Taisce argued that Gas Networks Ireland failed to consider the “considerable environmental impacts of biomethane production”, particularly “that which is reliant on intensive dairy farming and silage production”.

The group said that biogas plants and their respective feedstock sources should have been assessed as part of a full Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR).

ABP decision

Despite the concerns from An Taisce, the higher planning authority – An Bord Pleanála (ABP) – has allowed the development of the biogas plant in Cork, with revised conditions attached.

Among the 12 conditions is a stipulation that mitigation measures outlined in the environmental report, which formed part of the application, must be implemented in full.

Meanwhile, AgriLand recently reported that planning permission has recently been granted for Bord na Móna Powergen Ltd to develop a biogas plant in Co. Laois.

Conditional approval has been given for the renewable gas facility, along with associated works, to be developed at Cúil na Móna bog, in the townland of Clonboyne and Clonkeen, Portlaoise.