Plans rejected for country's largest district heating system
on 23/07/2012 00:00:00
The ambitious proposal aimed at heating the town's hotels, guesthouses, swimming pools, and private houses involved the demolition of a warehouse in an area zoned industrial.
The biomass plant on the site of an existing warehouse alongside the railway track at Woodlawn/Ballycasheen would burn 28,000 tonnes of "virgin woodchip" a year and would have an underground oil storage tank to supplement the heat during the coldest periods.
The hot water would be piped around the town in a 4.8km loop, taking in hotels, guesthouses, the swimming pool, and homes, at a fraction of existing energy costs, according to the proposal by Killarney Renewables Ltd.
Two large chimneys would burn the "virgin woodchip timber", which is defined as trees without foliage, and wood that is not waste.
However, the proposal met with strong objections from residents, hundreds of whom turned out at one public meeting in June.
The residents said they did not object to the principle of a biomass plant, but felt the site and the road infrastructure unsuitable. They also feared their houses would be devalued.
The council has now rejected the proposal, saying that "by reason of its height, scale, and bulk and its location in close proximity to residential properties and residentially zoned lands, [it] would be injurious to the amenities and value of residential lands and properties in the area".
It would also be contrary to sustainable development in the area and be visually obtrusive in the tourist town, the planners said.
However the plans are likely to be appealed to An Bord Pleanála.
In its application, the company said the biomass district heating system dovetailed with both Government and EU policy on renewable and locally-based energy production.
Killarney has form when it comes to innovative public energy. In the 1880s, just opposite this proposed site, a mill on the Flesk River powered turbines which supplied Killarney with electricity for public lighting before London or New York.
Recently the mill was being investigated again to see if the 19th century hydro-electric project could be revived.
The town council has said it is committed to a biomass plant, but most of its members have said they had concerns about the Woodlawn site.