OPW Minister of State Kevin 'Boxer' Moran cuts the ribbon at the official opening of Granard's Knights & Conquests Heritage & Visitor Centre last month.
An estimated €1.5m of taxpayers’ money will be squandered if plans to build a waste facility beside a recently opened tourism facility in north Longford are approved.
That is the guarded warning delivered by Co Longford Tourism Committee in a strongly worded submission to local planning chiefs over proposals by Dublin based outfit Ballinvalley Ltd to set up a “material recovery and transfer facility” at an industrial unit inside Granard’s Teemore industrial estate.
Details of the planning application were carried on the front page of the Leader three weeks ago, sparking a torrent of criticism from the instigators behind the town’s Knights & Conquests Heritage & Visitor Centre, Granard Motte Community Enterprise Group.
The state of the art tourism attraction was only opened to the public amid much fanfare barely six weeks ago.
In view of those endeavours, more than 20 objections have been lodged with Longford County Council’s planning department.
Among those include a strongly worded six page document submitted by the body charged with underpinning the county’s visitor influx-Longford Tourism Committee.
Its chairman and County Councillor Micheal Carrigy warned against the likely financial ramifications which would result should planning permission be sanctioned for the proposed facility.
“To date, over €500,000 has been invested in Granard Norman Visitor Centre and it is planned that over €1m will be invested in the Norman Park (which adjoins it),” wrote Cllr Carrigy.
The Longford Fine Gael general election candidate said the looming threat to the centre’s future plans could also throw fresh doubts over the long term existence of several locally held events such as the Harp Festival, Táin Trail and War of Independence memorials.
“All of these could be put under threat if the proposed waste transport facility is allowed to proceed,” added Cllr Carrigy.
In a lengthy submission by Granard Motte Community Enterprise Group themselves, the local volunteer body say the proposed site for the waste plant is “particularly ill-considered” and will “diminish” the impact of the town’s 12th century motte and still expanding visitor park.
Another local politician, Cllr PJ Reilly has likewise thrown his support behind that cause by calling on the Council to reject Ballinvalley’s proposals.
“As a public representative, I feel that this development is not suitable for this area because it is adjoining a heritage site and a newly developed interpretative centre,” he wrote in a submission tabled just over a week ago.
The Leader has also established planning officials have been sent over 20 other objections from local residents in the Rathcronan and Cartron areas of Granard.
Two locally based business owners David Callaghan and Terence Gibson have also joined in.
The latter, who owns a unit at Teemore Business Park beside where the waste facility is being proposed for, cited the likelihood of vermin, excess traffic, fire risks and noise pollution as being among a ten point argument for the project’s refusal.
“By granting permission to a waste plant would just destroy what has the potential to become a neat, thriving, tidy and small industrial park,” claimed Mr Gibson.