An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposed cement kiln near the Bru na Boinne World Heritage Site required the assessment of the predicted emissions on the Neolithic artwork associated with a number of passage tombs.
Pollutants nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM10) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) may cause damage to decorated and inscribed stones. However, no limits currently exist in Ireland for the protection of national monuments or ancient cultural artefacts. The proposed kiln was intended to replace an existing facility and was planned to reduce the levels of emitted nitrogen oxides and PM10 particulates. An air dispersion model predicted that sulphur dioxide, the main element responsible for stone decay, would be of a very low level. Reference to the Stone Monument Decay Study 2000 (Pavia, S. and Bolton, J. 2001) indicated that significantly higher levels of sulphur dioxide were observed in central Dublin without evidence of stone sulphation. It was concluded that the low level of sulphur dioxide would not have a significant impact on the Neolithic artwork.
Decorated stone from the Knowth passage tomb.
The planning authority was satisfied with the assessment and the proposal was subsequently granted planning permission.