An Bord Pleanála has ruled against the recommendation of its own inspector and upheld a decision by Cork County Council to grant planning permission for a plastics factory in Skibbereen.
Locals, who appealed the council’s planning permission for a 4,800 square metres thermoplastics facility for the town last January, received a letter yesterday from An Bord Pleanála stating that their appeal has been rejected.
Thirty-nine residents had formed a campaign group called Save Our Skibbereen (SOS).
Planning permission was sought by Daly Products Ltd, a subsidiary of multinational plastics manufacturer RTP Company.
Over 6,400 signatures were collected on an online petition by SOS calling for the factory to be banned.
Opponents of the plans include film producer David Puttnam, who lives in the area.
However, local councillors say the factory could mean up to 40 jobs for the area.
Although An Bord Pleanála’s inspector recommended refusing planning permission, the board said it is "satisfied the proposed development would be compatible with the zoning objective for the site and the existing pattern of development in the area."
There are 19 conditions attached to the decision, including the installation of "appropriate water pollution protection infrastructure" to protect the River Ilen and nearby Roaringwater Bay, a special area of conservation, from plastic pollution.
Locals have said they fear plastic "nurdles," pellets of plastic for processing, which will be transported by truck to and from the factory, will enter the environment and cause pollution.
Union Hall headmaster Brendan McCarthy, whose house is 26 metres from the factory site at Poundlick on the Baltimore Road, is one of residents who appealed against the council’s decision.
"I’m gutted and sickened and depressed that this decision has passed two hurdles," Mr McCarthy said.
"The fact that the inspector recommended refusal and the board over-ruled it makes it all the more sickening."
Mr McCarthy and other opponents, including his neighbour Simon Lockwood and his daughter Charli Williams, to the plan said they were preparing to review the document and seek legal advice on grounds for a judicial review of the decision.
The factory site, which is on former IDA land at Poundlick on the Baltimore road, was rezoned from green belt to light industry in 2015 to accommodate the factory.
Local Fianna Fáil Councillor Joe Carroll said the factory would give a much-needed jobs boost to the region.
"As councillors, we’re always looking for people to move back to the area so I give this a welcome, with a caution."
RTP Company has welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála.
The head of the firm’s European operations Danny Miles said: "We welcome the decision by the An Bord Pleanála to approve planning permission for our project and we thank them for taking the time to provide such a thorough review."