11/01/2010

Incinerator Still Inflames Community

As many as 500 construction jobs may be in doubt as the building of a highly controversial 600,000 tonne waste incinerator in Dublin's Poolbeg continues to be debated.

It has now emerged that any so-called interference with the project could leave the Irish State facing a multimillion euro compensation bill.

Dublin City Manager John Tierney has warned that stopping construction work on the plant - which is now being built in the face of opposition from the Minister for the Environment John Gormley and the local community - would breach civil rules.

He said that Mr Gormley's bid to cancel the project had "fundamental flaws" as the Minister "must be aware" that the council had a statutory obligation to go ahead with the incinerator.

Mr Tierney was speaking for the first time against the sustained criticism from Mr Gormley of the planned incinerator.

The four Dublin local authorities had entered into a contract to build the incinerator because of Government policy, Mr Tierney said.

In the region of €120 million of public money had already been spent on the incinerator as a direct result of this policy, he said.

Financial liabilities could arise if the contract was terminated or if policies were enacted to make it void, he added.

Mr Gormley has for several years been one of the most vociferous opponents of the incinerator which is located in his constituency of Dublin South East.

As a Green Party TD he made a submission to An Bord Pleanála against the city council's application for permission for the facility.

However on becoming Minister for the Environment in 2007 he was legally precluded from interfering in a statutory process that had already begun.

After the incinerator was granted permission, Mr Gormley initiated an international review of waste management policy.

Published in November, the review suggests measures to limit the amount of waste available for incineration.

But, Mr Tierney said: "The Dublin local authorities believe that there are fundamental flaws in the international review which is being used by the Minister as the basis for his reform of current policy."

He insisted the council, on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities, entered into the contract with the developers of the consortium, Covanta/Dong, precisely because of Government policy.

The €350 million project is to employ up to 500 people on site at peak construction and approximately 60 others in permanent jobs at the plant when it opens.

Dublin City Council said the plant is part of "a long term integrated plan for the management of the city's waste" and will generate heat and electricity from up to 600,000 tonnes of waste that would otherwise go to landfill, generating enough electricity for up to 50,000 homes as well as district heating potential for the equivalent of up to an additional 60,000 homes.

Late last year another Dublin politician also called on Dublin City Council and Dublin Waste to Energy Ltd to cease all construction on the site.

Dublin South East Deputy Lucinda Creighton said John Gormley had failed to act in time, suggesting a now mooted review was pointless as work had allready started.

She added: "The Minister's failure should not be reason enough for this unnecessary and unwanted project to go ahead."

See: Gormley 'Out-Manoeuvred' On Poolbeg Incinerator

(BMcC/GK)

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