THE RELIANCE in the Dublin waste management plan on a waste-to-energy plant at Poolbeg did not preclude the development of a similar plant elsewhere in the region, it was claimed at the Rathcoole incinerator hearing.
The hearing, under An Bord Pleanála's fast-track strategic infrastructure process, is inquiring into plans by Energy Answers International to build a €200 million incinerator, energy-recovery and concrete-block-making facility in a quarry south of Rathcoole in west Dublin.
Helen O'Keeffe a planning consultant told the hearing that, while the Dublin Waste Management Strategy referred to a plant at Poolbeg, "there is no statement that there is to be only one".
She said it would "not be prudent to ignore other objectives such as eliminating landfill". The need to reduce landfill was an objective which the Energy Answers plant fulfilled, she said.
In response to cross-examination by Pat Butler SC, for Rathcoole Against Incineration Dioxins (Raid), Ms O'Keeffe agreed the South Dublin County Development Plan had not specifically mentioned a waste-to-energy plant in the area. But she said there were other objectives in the plan which could be satisfied by the Energy Answers proposal.
In response to Mr Butler's repeated questions as to whether the development was stated as a proposed objective of the county development plan, Ms O'Keeffe asserted "a significant number of developments are not specified". She cited the example of bring centres and bottle banks, which were not specifically identified, yet had been provided across the region.
Mr Butler told Ms O'Keeffe the waste-to-energy plant was not specified in the development plan and she was interpreting other aspects of the plan and "shoehorning it in".
Michael O'Donnell SC, for Cavan Developments, said to be significant landowners in the Rathcoole area, asked Ms O'Keeffe if she had checked the planning history of the quarry on site when she made her submission that it was a lawful and compliant activity.
Ms O'Keeffe said she had relied on the manager's report from South County Dublin's planning department. This had said there was an established use on site and no enforcement proceedings were taking place.
Mr O'Donnell asked if Ms O'Keeffe was aware of the evidence at the hearing from South Dublin County Council that the development was unauthorised.
Ms O'Keeffe replied that she had responded to the submission to An Bord Pleanála which had been made by the council in writing. "There has been a change of position by South Dublin County Council" she said. "The written record as submitted to the board is different to the [oral] evidence to the board."