Killeeshil health fears over mushroom plant

Mushroom compost will be created at the site
Mushroom compost will be created at the site

Residents of a local community, which includes a large primary school and several housing estates, have expressed health fears over a mushroom composting site which has been given planning approval on their doorstep.

The green light has been given for a £15million compost facility in Tullyvannon near Ballygawley.

The Northway organisation, who represent 29 mushroom growers across Ireland, are behind the plan, which will provide 25 new jobs.

Planning Permission was granted by the Mid Ulster Council on Monday as part of the first series of decisions since planning powers were devolved to the new supercouncil.

The application, which was made late last year, will see the introduction of a state of the art indoor facility that is the first of its kind in the region.

However, residents living nearby have complained that they weren’t consulted about the plans, which were advertised in the run-up to Christmas last year.

“We were shocked to learn of the plans this week and since we live downwind of the facility we have fears that we may be adversely affected it”, said a Killeeshil householder.

“Anyone who passes by a mushroom factory knows the terrible stench that the manure gives off. Our concern is that the chicken litter will be delivered in lorries and unloaded during which time spores and bacteria linked to respiratory diseases can be carried in the wind.

“There is a large primary school with two hundred pupils and four housing estates within a mile of this site which could potentially be affected.”

SDLP Councillor Sharon McAleer said she had raised concerns about the plant and would be monitoring the situation.

“One of the conditions is that monitoring of noise and odour is to be carried out within 6 months of commencement of operations, and I will certainly be following this up”, she said.

“Other conditions that must be adhered to are in regard to the volume and type of waste not to exceed the limits specified in the planning statement, and that all doors are to be kept closed except where reasonably necessary for access.”

A spokesperson for Northway confirmed that stringent measures were in place to comply with pollution concerns.

“The planning application was frontloaded within a series of comprehensive assessments including noise, odour/air quality and traffic supplemented by a draft Working Plan that will inform the future Integrated Pollution Prevention Control (IPPC) permit”, he said.

“Once built and operational, the plant will be regulated via a very stringent permitting process by the NIEA to ensure that there are no breaches of management procedures or pollution standards and by the local council in terms of planning conditions.

“Northway are very content that all planning and environmental procedures and considerations have been accounted for.

“Throughout the process Northway engaged with local councillors inviting any concerned resident to Belgium to visit a similar facility.”

Some health experts in the UK have linked the rapid spread of commercial composting sites to a rise in respiratory infections, asthma and skin complaints among nearby residents.