Friday, 25 September 2009

Gormley concerned over city incinerator

MINISTER FOR the Environment John Gormley has said a contract signed by Dublin City Council to develop the incinerator at Poolbeg in Dublin may be anti-competitive.

Mr Gormley said he had written to the city manager to express his concern about the contract.

Speaking at an environmental conference yesterday, Mr Gormley said he had examined the council contract and had taken legal and economic advice and had written to the city manager about his concerns.

“If you have an incinerator of that size for 25 or 30 years . . . where you have a contract that guarantees the waste, you are drowning out competition, that is of concern,” he said.

He said other operators in the industry would not invest knowing that they cannot compete with a facility of the size of that planned for Poolbeg.

“I have always said that 600,000 tonnes does not make sense,” the Minister said. The council would have to “go back to the drawing board” if the contract proved to be anti-competitive, he said.

He also said he was prepared to look at a letter from the Irish Waste Association that recommended banning the export of incinerator ash.

It emerged yesterday that a landfill site near The Naul, in north Co Dublin, could become the location for Ireland’s first national facility for the treatment of hazardous ash generated by municipal waste incinerators.

Planning permission for the project is to be sought from An Bord Pleanála by Murphy Environmental Hollywood Ltd (MEHL), which already operates an inert landfill in Hollywood, The Naul.

The company said the site is strategically located between the Indaver incinerator now under construction in Duleek, Co Meath, and the proposed Dublin City Council facility planned for Poolbeg.

It said the project is in line with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Hazardous Waste Management Plan and the National Development Plan and should therefore qualify as “strategic infrastructure”.

MEHL has requested a pre-application consultation with An Bord Pleanála to determine whether the application can be considered under the Strategic Infrastructure Act, bypassing Fingal County Council.

The company is to seek approval for a change of use of the existing landfill at Hollywood while maintaining its current annual capacity limit.

A separate EPA waste management licence will also be sought.

“All waste treated at the facility will be non-biodegradable meaning it will not accept food waste and consequently have no odours, no methane, no vermin and no impact on greenhouse gases,” it said.

“The facility is expected to create more than 50 construction jobs and take 12-months to complete. Once operational, it is anticipated an additional 10 people will be employed directly,” the company said.

The announcement was made a day after the Irish Waste Management Association highlighted the absence of any facility here to treat incinerator ash and called for a ban on its export to other countries.

MEHL general manager Patricia Rooney said exporting ash not only resulted in considerable expense, but was also contrary to EU directives requiring each member state to deal with its own waste.

However, Minister for Food and Horticulture Trevor Sargent yesterday said he feared the toxic ash repository could damage farm production in north Fingal.

The Green TD for Dublin North said he had made his feelings on the matter known to Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

Irish Times

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