Proposed sites for incinerators and other major infrastructure projects should be included in city and county development plans to allow public consultation on their location, the Irish Planning Institute has said.
Speaking at the National Waste Summit in Dublin yesterday, the president of the institute, Henk Van der Kamp, said the "fast-track" approach to planning contained in the recent Strategic Infrastructure Act should only be allowed if a project has been specified in a development plan which has gone through public consultation.
"Major waste projects, such as incinerators and landfills, are included in principle in waste management plans but their locations are not identified. Hence, when the projects are proposed, there is opposition since the local communities in these locations have had no input into the choice of sites."
This could be solved by requiring local authorities not only to make a general statement they intend to develop incineration as part of their waste management policies, but to specify preferred locations for such projects in their development plans.
"Local communities are often taken by surprise when a project is proposed in their local area, notwithstanding the fact that the general principle may have been included in the waste management plan or county development plan for the area."
Specifying locations in development plans would also benefit the local authorities or developers of the projects, as it would reduce planning delays due to appeals or rejection by An Bord PleanÃ¡la, said Mr Van der Kamp.
Several objections have been made to the planning board in relation to the proposed incinerator for Poolbeg in Dublin on the basis that the site is not mentioned in the Dublin City Development Plan.
Local authorities or the "delivering agencies" who were seeking to develop a project appeared not to anticipate the impact the waste management plan would have on their planning application.
A review of An Bord PleanÃ¡la's files showed that developments were sometimes refused because they conflicted with the provisions of the waste management plan.
Waste management plans could also affect proposed schemes by limiting the duration of planning permission for a facility, limiting the capacity or limiting the catchment area from which waste could be collected.