Monasterevin residents investigating a smell from a composting facility on a local farm appear to have uncovered inadequacies in the regulation of the facility by Kildare County Council.
At a well attended meeting held in the scenic open air surroundings of the Day Care Centre in the town on Friday evening May 26, residents explained how the smell had developed from Cleary Compost and Shredding Ltd, Larch Hill in February.
The meeting, which was attended by local councillors and Deputy Sean O Fearghaill heard that the smell was so bad, people were forced into their homes, afraid to open their windows.
One man recounted how his children were closing the vents in their bedrooms.
The locals believe it is a serious health and safety issue and simply want the smell to stop.
However, since they started investigating the issue they’ve been surprised to find a light touch regulation from Kildare County Council, and an apparent failure by Council officials to deal or respond with them.
They told of numerous letters and approaches to council officials being unacknowledged.
The Leinster Leader has seen documentation which shows that Mr. Cleary’s developments is considered to be exempted, which means that he is not required to have planning permission for it.
This, they claim, is at odds with what with the initial advice of the planner and environmental officer assigned to the file.
He does have a Waste Management Facility Permit which only allows him to deal with garden and park waste, and no more than 1,000 tonnes a year.
However he has announced that he plans accepting up to 10,000 tonnes a year.
Also, Mr. Cleary is now also taking “organic fines”, the type of waste that is organic, but which is separated and removed from household waste and occasionally includes non organic waste. Locals say they have witnessed syringes and inhalers in the waste.
They are also worried that they have been unable to find out exactly what kind of waste is being composted by Mr. Cleary and that it is not the kind of waste he permitted to compost (green waste).
They also fear that his current facilities are inadequate to deal with the waste, specifically leachate run-off and the effect it might have on the local water supply.
Mr. Cleary’s neighbours have approached him and he has promised to deal with the situation, a promise he repeated to the Leinster Leader. He explained that a planning application is scheduled to be lodged by the middle of June which will include infrastructure to deal with the smells, including air filtration and purification systems.
Because of the lack of general clarity and openness the locals now say they want the facility shut.
The councillors who were there on the evening were quite taken aback by what they had been told. Cllr Suzanne Doyle said she was surprised that the Council would “expose themselves to this after Kerdiffstown. Have they learned nothing?”
The Leinster Leader spoke to Mr Cleary who said that he wanted to deal with the matter to the satisfaction of his neighbours.
He stressed that the facility was on a family farm that had been in the family for he past four generations.
“We’re anxious to diversify our farm going forward.”
He said he understood that the local people wanted to sit down with him and that he was “prepared to do that”.
“I want to see this this resolved and I’m prepared to do anything to achieve that.”