No oral hearing on Aughinish rock-blasting

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CAPPAGH Farmers Support Group (CFSG) have criticised An Bord Pleanála for rejecting their application for an oral hearing regarding Rusal Aughinish’s plans to rock-blast close to the red mud ponds on their site at Aughinish Island.

CFSG chairman Pat Geoghegan believes it has denied his group the opportunity to air their views publicly to the dangers of the rock blasting. He also says that Rusal’s burrow pit proposal will have a life-long detrimental impact on fauna, wildlife, marine life and the natural environment.

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“We believe such an application was reckless in the first place to be even lodged by this company. It would entail the setting off of explosives metres from an embankment storing approximately 40 million tonnes of toxic waste.

“Should the embankment, which is only made up of crush rock was to be breached, it would allow thousands of tonnes to immediately flow into the Shannon destroying all before it,” Mr Geoghegan warned.

This would leave the River Shannon destroyed for decades to come and clean up costs running into millions.

“All this to save the company the cost of sourcing rock, which can easily be got from quarries in the area.”

“An Bord Pleanála’s decision has also denied our group a forum for Irish and international experts to highlight the very real dangers of this rock blasting operation. We had also secured the services of an environment expert who has studied the dangers such blasting would have to the environment such as in Hungary in 2010 when people died and the local environment was destroyed,” he told the Limerick Post.

Most of all, this decision has denied the local community an opportunity to voice their anger and their concerns to this blasting going ahead for approximately ten years and the effect it will also have on their property.

“It’s a sad day that shows us and the public the protection that this company is afforded by An Bord Pleanála that they are not answerable to the public as we now await a final decision to be made.”

In their response to the group’s claims, An Bord Pleanála stated that it has decided to determine the appeal without an oral hearing.

“The Board has concluded that the appeal can be dealt with adequately through written procedures,” a spokesman explained.