THE Department of the Environment is set to raise several new concerns about the impact of two controversial incinerators on legally protected wildlife zones in Cork Harbour.
In a hard-hitting submission to a Bord Pleanála oral hearing, which gets under way today, the department will say it is not satisfied with the assessment of the impact of emissions and effluent discharges from Indaver’s proposed developments on the protected areas.
And it has also asked for further information on potential emissions in the event of an accident or a catastrophic failure of the incinerator’s combustion and air pollution control systems.
The submission, which has been seen by the Irish Examiner, says a more comprehensive assessment of the project is recommended.
It should take into account European Commission guidance on the protection of certain habitats, as well as the specific effects of effluent discharges and emissions from the proposed development on Cork Harbour and its protected areas, the department said.
These concerns were not raised during the 2003 oral hearing into a previous application by Indaver to build a single toxic waste incinerator on the same site.
The new departmental submission could prove hugely significant.
Indaver Ireland has applied to Bord Pleanála, under the Strategic Infrastructure Act, for 10-year planning permission for two incinerators — one for hazardous waste and one for municipal waste — on a 12-hectare site in Ringaskiddy.
The €150m project includes two waste-to-energy facilities, plus a waste transfer station.
The industrial WTE facility will burn a maximum of 100,000 tonnes of solid and liquid, hazardous and non-hazardous wastes such as contaminated packaging, products, and solvents or liquids from the pharmaceutical and chemical industry every year.
The municipal WTE facility will treat a maximum of 140,000 tonnes of residual household and commercial waste every year.
Hundreds of submissions have been made by members of the public opposed to the project.
The submission from the Department of the Environment points out that the proposed incinerators will be located within 1km of legally-protected zones of Cork Harbour, and within 10km of dozens of designated and proposed protected sites, which could be affected by emissions.
Cllr Dominick Donnelly said local campaigners have been raising these concerns for years.
"We are fairly confident of winning our case this time," the Green Party councillor said. "The last time, the only reason we lost was because of Government policy. The thinking now is very, very different."
However, Indaver Ireland said it believes incineration is part of the solution to key environmental, energy and economic challenges faced in the Cork region. "Facts, not hearsay should determine the outcome of its application," managing director John Ahern said.
"We believe that the facts we will present demonstrate a compelling case in favour of granting approval for our application."
A decision is expected in early June.