Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Residents fire first salvo against Ballyshannon sand project

The road to Ballyshannon village, along which there will be a HGV movement every seven minutes. Pic: Google.
The first shots in a campaign against the development of a sand extraction facility at Ballyshannon by Kilsaran Concrete were fired this morning, writes Brian Byrne, with an impassioned appeal for other communities in the area, including Kilcullen, to support the immediately affected residents.

Speaking with Clem Ryan on KFM Radio, local resident of 17 years Geraldine O'Connor said the proposed development would destroy the rural life of the area, would create a health hazard, and is totally inappropriate in a close community with three schools and some 400 pupils travelling to and from them.

A public meeting has been called for next Monday 14 October, for which all public representatives have been urged to attend. It will be held in Ballyshannon NS starting at 8pm. 

Details of the proposed development were reported here on 26 September. The application was lodged by Kalsaran with Kildare County Council last week.

The company is planning to extract some 3m tonnes of material over ten years, which will be sent to 'Kilsaran owned and operated facilities in the Dublin/Leinster area'. There's a strong suspicion, articulated today by Geraldine O'Connor, that much of that material will be transported through Kilcullen to a new tile factory being built by Kilsaran at Brownstown just north of the town. An information sheet distributed locally said the project would mean 72 heavy truck movements a day in and out of the facility.

Ms O'Connor noted that apart from the traffic to and from the local schools, many local children walk from Ballshannon village to the Athy-Kilcullen road to pick up a bus to Cross & Passion College in Kilcullen. "There is not way that you would allow your child to walk on a country road with HGVs travelling along it every seven minutes," she told Clem Ryan.

She also highlighted the inevitable production of silica dust from the work, which would create a health hazard for local people. "Once you breath in silica dust, it is so fine that you can't get it out again. It is also a known carcinogen."

Saying that the issue was 'all about our homes, our children and our grandchildren', she noted that what is now a beautiful countryside landscape will be destroyed. "The local wildlife will also be destroyed."

An action group is being formed, and when the application was lodged last week members went in to Kildare County Council's offices to inspect it, but were told that the file 'is very large' and won't be ready until perhaps next week. "This means that we will have lost another week in the time allowed for objections," Geraldine O'Connor said.

She urged people in the local community, and all the communities around — including Kilcullen — to write letters of objection immediately. "Write it from your heart," she appealed over the airways. "Write it so it shows how it will affect you."

KFM's presenter said the station had sought a representative from Kilsaran, or a statement, but without response.

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