A CONSULTANT ecologist differed with residents of Ringsend, Dublin, yesterday over the potential effects of a proposed incinerator on the Poolbeg peninsula, an EU designated and protected area.
Eleanor Mayes, a consultant ecologist for Dublin City Council which is seeking a licence to operate the incinerator, told an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing the protected area would not be adversely affected by air emissions from the incinerator.
Ms Mayes, who holds a masters degree in Zoology from Trinity College Dublin, said she had recommended measures to mitigate the impact of the incinerator plant on wintering waterfowl.
On the basis of those mitigation measures and available information, she concluded there would be "no adverse effects" on the waterfowl population or interference with the ecological integrity and conservation status of the area.
Responding to submissions from the Combined Residents Against the Incinerator campaign and others , Ms Mayes said the use of pesticides to eliminate vermin did give rise to the potential for secondary poisoning of birds of prey.
But she said this was a potential at all sites, whether urban, industrial or rural, and she submitted that "locational considerations for the facility are not relevant in this regard".
The issue of birds scavenging on the waste was not a major factor, as it might be at a landfill, because the waste would be processed inside the building, she said.
Control of birds would only arise in respect of birds entering through vehicular access to the reception halls and a project ecologist would liaise with the National Parks and Wildlife Service in preparing a control strategy which would be submitted to the EPA for approval.
However, a spokeswoman for the residents said they had been disappointed in the assessment made by Ms Mayes.
Lorna Kelly of Combined Residents Against the Incinerator said there were population of falcons, notably the peregrine and kestrels, which would almost certainly suffer from secondary poisoning through catching poisoned vermin.
She also maintained that a population of little terns at the site of a proposed outflow pipe from the facility had not been adequately assessed.
But Ms Kelly said one of the greatest difficulties for locals was the particulated matter which would be emitted to the air, which would have a negative and cumulative impact on invertebrate and bird fauna in the protected areas of the bay.
Frances Carr, also of the combined residents association, said it was intended to bring in the noted Italian scientist Stefano Montanari, to contest evidence on emissions. It is expected Mr Montanari will give his evidence on Friday.
Assistant city manager Matt Twomey said the council, which has already received planning permission for the incinerator, must now apply for permission to the Commission for Energy Regulation, for permission to generate electricity from the combustion process, and connect the plant to the national grid.
"We need three separate permissions, but we are hopeful of getting them all," he said.
The Irish Times