DUBLIN CITY Council has signed a contract with developer Treasury Holdings to provide heating for apartments in Spencer Dock from the Poolbeg incinerator, which has yet to be granted a licence from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The council has secured planning permission for the incinerator from An Bord Pleanála, but it needs a waste licence from the EPA to operate the plant.
The EPA will hold an oral hearing on the council's licence application. This hearing begins in two weeks and will hear from groups who are opposed to the incinerator, as well as the council.
The proposed incinerator is being challenged in the courts by local opposition group Combined Residents Against Incineration. The action is being taken against the Minister for the Environment, the Attorney General, Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanála and relates to certain EU environmental directives.
However, the council has decided to press ahead with agreements, and infrastructure, to provide heating generated by the plant to offices and apartments in the docklands area.
The council is to provide "district heating" for the equivalent of 20,000 people in Treasury's Spencer Dock development and has already begun laying the pipes from the proposed site of the incinerator to the complex.
The district heating system allows the heat to be pumped directly to apartments and offices without the need for a boiler in each building. The council estimates that once the system is up and running, the apartment owners will receive bills that are about 20 per cent lower than those of the ESB or Bord Gáis.
Although the plant does not have a licence, and will not be built until 2011/2012, assistant city manager Matt Twomey said it was prudent to plan ahead for district heating. The financial benefit to the council from this deal cannot be revealed because of commercial sensitivity, Mr Twomey said.
A feasibility study on the capacity for district heating once the plant is fully operational is to be published in the coming months and is to include details of the profits to be made by the council. The council is also in the process of choosing a service provider which will issue heating bills on its behalf.
While residents in new apartments will benefit from lower utility bills, existing residents living in older houses near the plant site will not, at least in the short to medium term, Mr Towmey said.
Several local residents expressed disappointment that they would not benefit from district heating at a meeting held by the council in Ringsend last Saturday. The meeting was organised to give residents further details of the plant's community gain fund consisting of an €8 million lump sum and €500,000 annually.
The Irish Times