Cork campaigners call for long overdue plastic factory planning decision

Published by Shamim Malekmian on

October 5th, 2018

Local campaigners against a proposed plastic factory in Skibbereen have called for a speedy decision from An Bord Pleanála (ABP) on their appeal of the factory’s planning permission.

The planning authority had initially scheduled July 28 as the official date to issue their final decision, but it was later postponed.

Speaking at a public meeting at the West Cork Hotel last night, Save Our Skibbereen chairperson Brendan McCarthy said that he tried to contact ABP every week since the July deadline.

Videography: Ben Kavanagh

“As of yesterday, there is still no decision, we’ll ring back every week because they won’t give us a new date,” he added.

Locals in Skibbereen are hoping that ABP will rescind planning permission granted to Daly Products Ltd – an Irish division of Minnesota-based RTP Company – for the proposed plant in Skibbereen.

Campaigners said that they are prepared to start fundraising to seek leave from the High Court for a judicial review if the planning authority stands by the original decision to grant permission.

The group’s campaign has drawn international attention, with Canadian plastic campaigner Bryan McNeil travelling to Skibbereen earlier in the summer.

A smallish spill of plastic pellets in Pineville, Louisiana Photo: gentlemanrook

Water contamination concerns

The citizen group has repeatedly voiced its concern about possible water contamination from nurdles, a by-product of plastic manufacturing.

Nurdles are inherently non-toxic. However, they began to act as sponges overtime and can absorb chemicals found in water such as DDT, a chemical compound used in insecticide.

Marine species often chow down plastic nurdles, mistaking them for fish eggs. If digested, chemicals adhered to the nurdles become absorbed into their tissues, making them potentially hazardous for humans to consume.

Mr McCarthy said that water contamination may jeopardise the area’s fertile fishing industry, arguing that the factory would kill off existing jobs at the cost of bringing new in new staff for the factory.

“The only argument anyone can make in favour of this is jobs,” he said. “If people could get beyond that and look realistically at so many existing jobs that would be threatened, no one can say that building a plastic factory in Skibbereen in 2018 is a good idea.”

Brendan McCarthy shows the exact space set to be occupied by the purposed factory Photo: Shamim Malekmian

Nurdle spills

Fiona Vincent, a founding member of the group, said that anyone with access to the Internet could learn about the detrimental impact of materials used in plastic manufacturing on the environment.

“Google is full of page upon page of nurdle spills into the environment and volunteers cleaning up the nurdles everywhere,” she said.

In a statement to The Green News, RTP said that they have decided not to make any public comments while the Board is reviewing their planning application.

“As two of the residents have decided to exercise their right of appeal to An Bord Pleanála we will respect the appeal process by responding directly to the Board’s queries and declining to make any public comment on the grounds of appeal until the Board has made its decision,” a company statement read.

RTP also invited locals to a public consultation meeting last December to address their concerns and says that it has responded to all of Cork County Council’s requests for further information concerning its planning application.

Videography: Ben Kavanagh

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Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.