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Public representatives back campaign against Skibb plastics factory

July 26th, 2018 7:09 AM

By Southern Star Team

Independent TD for Cork South West, Michael Collins, listening intently at the Save Our Skibbereen public meeting last recently. (Photos: Anne Minihane)

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BY MOLLY O’CALLAGHAN

A PUBLIC meeting was held recently to discuss the proposed plastics factory by Daly Products Ltd, at Poundlick, Skibbereen. 

The Save Our Skibbereen campaign group expressed concern about the development and the plastic nurdles that may be potentially damaging to the West Cork environment.

Campaigner Brendan McCarthy argued against the claim of creating 50 new jobs.He estimated it would be around 15 jobs, as a similar factory in Poland, 1.7 times bigger, only produced 25 jobs, and he dismissed a potential increase in local employment opportunities, as there was no guarantee of local jobs.

Another campaigner, Luz Whitty, discussed anomalies in the planning process, explaining the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) requirement for public consultation surrounding environmental issues, arguing that there wasn’t sufficient public consultation, with little exposure leading to a lack of public outcry at the time.

Fiona Vincent highlighted the environmental costs she anticipated, commenting ‘major nurdle spills are not uncommon’ and, when they ‘cluster in water look like fish eggs, ’ which when consumed by predators act as ‘endocrine disrupters,’ impacting on ability to breed. 

Fiona explained that the nurdles can penetrate the public wastewater system, with the finest screen for filtration having 6mm gaps and the nurdles being 1mm. She claimed that the American-based company behind the project has ‘tax breaks because of foreign direct investment,’ challenging the view that the scheme will bring money to the area.

Malcom Thompson discussed the factory emissions, commenting on the protruding chimneys ‘17 meters high’ from the site at Poundlick. He mentioned the production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by the proposed factory, which he claimed to have ‘long-term health effects … settling on fields and gardens surrounding.’

Concerns were expressed that prevailing winds could carry harmful gases towards the Skibbereen Community College, ‘in the flight path and at the same height as the chimneys.’ Malcom spoke of Cadmium, ‘a carcinogenic causing genetic defects, damage to unborn children and to marine life,’ as something that could potentially be produced.

Many concerns were raised, such as those of Ambrose Whitty, who moved here ‘attracted by pristine West Cork,’ who highlighted safety issues, such as the lack of steel shutters and evacuation measures, as concerning, seeing as the factory is due to be next to a residential home.  

Ambrose raised the issue of heavy machinery making ‘50 trips a day’ from the factory into town carrying huge loads, creating the possibility of a traffic issue in Skibbereen, an issue for large farm machinery and cars alike.

Brendan McCormack highlighted that tourists come to West Cork for ‘heritage, whale watching, environment and craic, never asking for the plastics factory.’ In terms of local development goals, Brendan stated, ‘it would appear that the plan has been ripped up to facilitate this factory … you could do many other things with the space that are harmonious to the local economy.’

Councillor Paul Hayes said initially he saw it it as an economic opportunity for Skibbereen but said: ‘I’m against this proposal … I’m here to represent you.’

Local independent TD Michael Collins stated he believes: ‘It’s very clear that huge errors have been made … there are lots of serious issues that should have been addressed. I’ll fight the corner with you.’

The matter is currently with An Bord Pleanala for a decision.

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