ENVIRONMENT IRELAND CONFERENCE: THE CHIEF executive of Forfás, the State advisory board on science and technology, has outlined his opposition to increasing charges for landfill waste.
Speaking at a conference organised by the Environmental Protection Agency in Dublin yesterday, Martin Cronin said he was "not sure about additional disincentives for landfill" as Ireland already had "some of the most expensive landfill charges in the world".
He said Ireland was "making progress towards incineration" - although he added this progress could be helped by "simplifying, speeding up and bringing clarity to the planning process".
Addressing the prospect of an increased landfill levy, Mr Cronin of Forfás compared such a move to traffic congestion charging in city centres. Neither the congestion charge nor the increased levy was feasible without offering an alternative, he said.
The views are contrary to those expressed on a number of occasions by Mr Gormley who has suggested increases in the State levy on landfill charges and who is also well known as an opponent of incineration.
Forfás is the national advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation while Mr Gormley as Minister for the Environment is responsible for State waste management policy.
In his evaluation of the State's landfill charges, Mr Cronin also said Ireland faced challenges relative to competitor countries because it was among the top three most expensive of a basket of 11 worldwide states.
Biological treatment here was the most expensive of the 11 states and because Ireland had a limited number of other options, the result was a heavy reliance on landfill, he maintained.
Yesterday's conference also heard that an alternative treatment, mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) of rubbish, "in itself does not result in the final treatment of waste".
Bernie Guinan of analysts Fehily Timoney Company said MBT gave rise to issues about control of air emissions, leachate, and a residue which would have to go to landfill or incineration.
To establish MBT in an Irish context would, she said, involve developing guidance for the management of outputs; developing a standard to measure how biodegradable different types of waste were; and developing mechanisms to assess the performance of MBT.
Dr Gerry Byrne of the Environmental Protection Agency said the State also has a need for additional landfill and incineration capacity for hazardous wastes.
According to a national management strategy for hazardous waste to be launched next month, the State will need a landfill of 15,000 tonnes capacity for asbestos, alongside a 10,000 tonnes capacity for other hazardous waste.
Dr Byrne said that currently the State relied considerably on exporting hazardous wastes, but the ultimate goal was to become self-sufficient.
The Irish Times