MINISTER FOR the Environment John Gormley is to appoint within weeks an inspector to investigate the contract for the 600,000-tonne incinerator which began construction in Poolbeg, Dublin, yesterday.
Mr Gormley said he would also soon introduce a cap on incineration which would limit the amount of waste that could be burned on a regional basis.
Dublin City Council is tied into a contract with the developers of the incinerator, Covanta/Dong, to provide at least 320,000 tonnes annually to the €350 million plant. If it does not, it has to compensate the consortium at a rate of €100 for every tonne not supplied.
Mr Gormley said the financial implications of this contract must be investigated.
The council said the plant, which will take three years to build, will provide 500 jobs during the construction phase and 60 permanent jobs once it opens. It will also reduce dependence on landfill and contribute towards reaching Ireland’s climate change targets, it said.
“Under the terms of the contract, the four Dublin local authorities will recover energy from 320,000 tonnes of waste from the region annually that would otherwise go to landfill,” assistant city manager Séamus Lyons said.
He added that Dublin’s current waste plan is similar in strategy to the waste plans of many of Europe’s “top recycling cities” including Stockholm (European Green Capital 2010), Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Oslo and Freiburg.
The plant will also provide enough electricity for up to 50,000 homes as well as having the potential to provide district heating for the equivalent of up to an additional 60,000 homes locally, the council said.
The local community also gets a community gain fund of 3 per cent of the capital cost of the plant and €1 for every tonne of waste burned.
However, large number of local residents and politicians remain opposed to the plant. Residents protested last night at Seán Moore Road, which leads to the plant.
Local Labour councillor Maria Parodi, who was involved in the protest, said the development was a “huge mistake” for the city.
“This incinerator is a disincentive to any ambitious recycling, composting and waste reduction strategies. There are other waste management options available that are more environmentally friendly and more cost-efficient and we should be exploring them in pursuit of a zero-waste model.”
Speaking on RTÉ radio yesterday, Mr Gormley said he had made his views known “very trenchantly” to Dublin City Council. “The local council needs to consider its position . . . I think at this stage they need to understand an incinerator of this capacity is just not on.”
Mr Gormley has said the taxpayer could face bills of €18 million a year for the next 20 years if the incinerator goes ahead. Dublin City Council has rejected the claim.
The Irish Waste Management Association, which also opposes the incinerator, said the council was being “amazingly arrogant” in pressing ahead with construction of the facility. It said its members do not intend to bring waste to the plant.