Thursday, 19 April 2007

Hundreds expected at oral hearing on incinerator

HUNDREDS of residents opposed to plans for a waste incinerator at Poolbeg are expected to show up at an oral hearing into the controversial project today.

People from Ringsend, Irishtown and Sandymount are worried that the incinerator will be a major health risk as well as adding to traffic congestion.

The Bord Pleanála hearing, which is being held at the Croke Park conference centre in order to accommodate the large numbers expected to attend, is likely to last several weeks.

The proposed incinerator is one of the most controversial developments planned for Dublin in over a decade.

It threatens to become a major election issue in the Dublin South-East constituency which is represented by, among others, the Tánaiste and Progressive Democrats leader, Michael McDowell, and deputy leader of the Green Party, John Gormley.

Although the construction of an incinerator for general waste in the Dublin area is part of official Government policy, all local TDs and councillors are opposed to the proposals for such a facility being located on the Poolbeg peninsula.

Nevertheless, Dublin City Council has vowed to press ahead with the project, despite setbacks.

Earlier this year, Elsam, the Danish company contracted to build the facility was taken over by Danish Oil and Natural Gas, (DONG).

The change of ownership led Mr McDowell to claim plans for the incinerator had collapsed, although Dublin City Council has insisted the project will go ahead as originally planned.

It is expected that the incinerator will be capable of burning up to 600,000 tonnes of waste per year — equivalent to 25% of the city’s household and non-hazardous commercial waste.

In a separate development, the Oireachtas recently fast-tracked the green light for plans for a major, new mixed development on the Poolbeg peninsula which will provide housing for thousands of residents.

Opponents of the incinerator claim this project would be a non-runner if the Government presses ahead with its plans for a major waste treatment facility in the same area.

Meanwhile, some Ringsend residents staged a demonstration outside the council’s offices at Wood Quay yesterday to protest that they had not been informed about today’s oral hearing.

Anti-incinerator campaigner, Rory Hearne, said almost 3,000 people living near the Poolbeg peninsula had lodged individual objections to the incinerator. However, Mr Hearne complained that only a few objectors have received a formal notice of the An Bord Pleanála hearing.

“This is a disgraceful undermining of the democratic process of planning, when thousands of objectors are being silenced because they are not aware that the oral hearing is taking place,” said Mr Hearne.

The protesters called on both the local authority and Environment Minister Dick Roche to postpone the oral hearing until the community were properly informed.

Irish Examiner

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