Friday 19 July 2019

Residents rail against Duhallow crematorium plan

Horrified locals cite emissions, traffic congestion and local area plan in objections

Maria Herlihy

Residents are up in arms at the prospect of a crematorium being given the green light by planners at Cork County Council and are citing emissions, traffic congestion and the "absolute non-compliance with the County Development Plan" as being just some of the reasons for their firm objections.

Jerry Collins is one objector of many to the planning application at Dromcummer Beg which is the site of the now demolished Duhallow Park Hotel. Mr Collins told The Corkman that what Duhallow needs is a hotel and not a crematorium.

"What is key to this is the huge volume of traffic which will build up on the main Mallow to Killarney road, which has a 100km speed limit. With Shannon [crematorium] presently holding six cremations a day, which has on average 40 cars per funeral, it will lead to huge traffic congestion. There are already huge problems at Ballymaquirke, which have been well highlighted, and then factor in tail back of cars, it will further exacerbate this problem," he said. 

He also said that the crematorium "will be emitting smoke which will be pumped out for the next 100 years," and will cause huge environmental and damage to humans. 

Environmentalist Eamonn O'Hara also said that, very worryingly, there are "zero EU regulations or directives" to govern crematoriums in either Ireland or the UK. "It is completely unregulated and it means that planners don't have any documents to refer to," he said. 

"What is also a huge issue is that the Blackwater is a marked Special Area of Conservation and it is directly opposite the proposed site. The protected Pearl Mussel is currently thriving in this river and that is a reflection of the buoyant ecosystem. 

"There are huge environmental issues with this planning application and there are huge concerns regarding emissions," he said. 

Mr O'Hara said he visited the crematorium in Shannon and noticed that in just one single day it held six cremations, and one funeral had 40 cars and another 42. 

He pointed out that, from Duhallow, there is a crematorium in Shannon, which is one hour and 15 minutes away, and one based at Ringaskiddy in Cork.

"There isn't a need for a third crematorium in this region," he said.  His viewpoint was shared by beef farmer Margaret Lehane, who said if this planning gets the green light her farm will be "covered by three sides of the crematorium". 

"As farmers, we have to abide by Department of Agriculture rules which are so stringent and which we absolutely follow, but yet an unregulated crematorium can be built right next to my farm," she said. 

She said she began researching the emissions from crematoriums and cited "mercury" as raising a huge concern for her. 

She said that "the emissions are colourless and odourless, and can travel long distances."  

She also said that she has Continental cows and have to take them across an already very busy road. 

"This site is completely unsuitable and nobody wants or supports this. There is also zero public transport to the site," she said.  Sheila Nugent, another objector, said that the planning proposal is not keeping in line at all with the Local Area Development Plan of which one aspect cited is employment.

"This crematorium, if given planning, will only employ three people so it is completely at odds with the Local Area Plan," she said.  

Maryanne O'Brien said she has one baby, a three year old and a five year old, and she goes to Banteer at least six times per day between dropping and picking up her children. "I don't want to look at a crematorium at the side of the main Mallow to Killarney tourist route road and I don't want my children looking at it either," she said. 

"The traffic will be absolutely unbearable. The chimney of the crematorium will be below our house so the emissions will be directly all around us, especially when the wind comes from the south west, so we will be directly affected." 

Nuala Meade will also be lodging her objection by the closing date of Wednesday, October 17. She said: "We simply do not want this on our doorstep and this proposal does not - high up or low down - reflect the County Development Plan. We are horrified at this planning application." 

"People in the area need to know about this planning application as the closing date for the objections is fast approaching," she said. 

Last month, a planning was submitted for the provision for the construction of a crematorium and associate site works, car parking and alterations to existing site entrances to create a single entrance and exit. A Natural Impact Statement was to be submitted as part of the application. 

In February of last year, the owners of the site, Whitegate based Classic Lodges (Ireland) Ltd, made a submission seeking their proposal for the facility to be incorporated into the draft Local Area Plan (LAP). It called for  the plan to be amended to give general support to the provision  of a crematorium in rural brownfield sites and "identify the former Duhallow Park Hotel as a suitable location." 

The submission listed reasons why the site would be suitable for a crematorium, saying their was a growing demand for such a facility that had only been addressed in urban areas. It also stated that the proposed use as a crematorium would "generate a lower level of traffic than the established and permitted uses."