The latest ‘war of words’ between Minister John Gormley and City Manager John Tierney, each dissing the other’s report, is serving a useful safety valve for the Minister – as the plant will be located in Ringsend slap bang in the Minister’s constituency. At least he can show his constituents he can stand up to the City Council.
But I can’t see him being able to stop the project at this stage, a contract has been signed and all the relevant permissions in law have been granted.
When I was on Dublin City Council the issue of the proposed incinerator was an ongoing item for discussion. My position was that plant would be over capacity and in the wrong location for transport reasons.
I remember vividly the day the Assistant City Manager Matt Twomey announced the agreement of the contract for the Incinerator, it was on June 13th 2007, the day the Green Party were in the Mansion House debating entering Government with Fianna Fáil.
To this day I don’t know if this was an amazing co-incident or if the contact was being signed to make sure it was done and dusted before the Green Party and Fianna Fáil formed a Government.
In my opinion the Greens have excellent waste management policies, and its a pity they did not get some hard commitments on waste and halting the incinerator as a pre-condition in any Programme for Government. In 2007, existing Government policy was to build eight incinerators in the Republic, the new FF/Green Government did not rescind this position.
I know I’m going back over old ground here, but for the local residents and the Irish taxpayer this plant may prove to be extremely costly.
There are real concerns over the impact this incinerator will have on the health of the local population. Air quality levels in the area will deteriorate with the amount of traffic going to and from the incinerator plant. Furthermore I believe there was not an adequate assessment of the impact of the development on human health, (this may make the EPA decision to grant a waste licence illegal under EU law).
In the Green Party submission to the oral hearing on the waste licence, the Green Party team, that included Claire Wheeler, Ciarán Cuffe TD, and myself, showed that the plant would lead to greater air pollution in the immediate area, and that there would not be enough residual waste for this incinerator which was supposedly needed to deal with waste from the Dublin Region.
Now that Dublin City and County Councils can no longer control waste collection licences there is no guaranteed supply, in that waste collectors can decide where they wish to dispose of the waste. Once they comply with EU law, they cannot be forced to deal exclusively with the Poolbeg Plant.
The Company contracted to operate the incinerator has an agreement with Dublin City Council which guarantees that a minimum amount of waste will be provided by the Dublin region to make the deal profitable to the operators. This is a mistake. At the very least any incinerator should be run as a civic amenity and not for profit.
The company running the plant have now confirmed that they will have to source waste from outside the Dublin Region, and I predict that this will have to include forms of waste that should be recycled or eliminated in the first place.
The other story here is the unwillingness to introduce limits for unnecessary and non-biodegradable packaging. Looking at reducing the amount of waste we produce has to be core to any waste management policy.
Read my submission to the EPA Oral Hearing on the Waste Licence here.