A protest walk organised by the Save the Boyne group will take place tomorrow (Saturday, July 30) to highlight its campaign against Dawn Meats’ plan to discharge wastewater into the river.

The group invites people to walk from the ramparts in Navan, Co. Meath at 09:30a.m. to Drogheda on the banks of the river to raise awareness of their ongoing appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

The group lodged an appeal after Dawn Meats had been granted permission by Meath County Council to construct a 7.2km pipeline from its Slane beef abattoir plant, to discharge 400,000L of treated wastewater into the river per day.

The case is due to be decided by An Bord Pleanála by Friday, September 19, 2022.

Low water levels

Speaking to Agriland, Save the Boyne representative Tommy Martin McLarlol said that current water levels in the river are very low, and have already been pretty low at a previous walk in April.

Dawn Meats previously said its plans will deliver safer water treatment to best-practice environmental standards, which will exceed all required standards by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“This plan could be working for 20 years, however, it only takes one thing to happen and the river will never recover from it; 70,000 people get their drinking water from the river.

“[It is assumed] that the water flow will be able to hold 400,000L per day because of the capacity of the river. But then, I am standing at the river and there is a trickle going down between all these rocks.

“It is too much of a risk. You can’t take it back once it got into the water,” the Save the Boyne representative said.

221 metres above the discharge point. Image source: Tommy Martin McLarlol

In its appeal to Meat County Council, Sonairte, the National Ecology Centre, said the river is one of the most important water sites for salmon in eastern Ireland, and also some rare plant species are present in the Boyne. It stated:

“If the wastewater they produce is not sufficiently clean at present to be re-absorbed back into the process, then it is not sufficiently clean to be released into the river Boyne.”

McLarlor criticised that Dawn Meats’ proposal assumes its treatment and discharging plans will be working at 100%, without any leakages or breakdowns.