Minister for the Environment John Gormley said today he would not be pressured into issuing a foreshore licence for the operation of the Poolbeg incinerator in Ringsend.
The Minister’s comments come after reports that the US ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney had requested a meeting with him over the delay in granting a licence for the controversial project.
Dublin City Council first lodged an application for a licence almost two years ago and until it is issued, the US developer of the project, Covanta Energy, is unable to proceed.
Mr Gormley, who campaigned against the Poolbeg plan before entering Government, said the incinerator licence is being considered but that it is one of a large number of foreshore applications currently being processed.
Speaking on RTÉ radio this morning, Mr Gormley said the issuing of the licence would be dealt with in a "fair and transparent manner" and denied he was deliberately delaying the project.
"My concern is not the shareholders of a private company. My concern is national waste policy,” he said. "This is a quasi-judicial matter and I find it quite unacceptable that people would use publicly the newspapers to actually lobby for this."
Mr Gormley said he believed pressure was being put on him because of his decision to introduce waste facility levies which are designed to penalise large incinerator projects.
"This really isn't about any foreshore licence. It is about my policy direction and they [Covanta] have been applying considerable pressure to ensure I do not proceed with the incinerator levies and have employed a very slick PR campaign to do that," he said.
"I will not be brow-beaten or intimidated in any way and I will continue on with this course of action and will continue with these imposition levies."
Mr Gormley also rejected claims that up to 600 jobs will be created as a result of the licence being granted, saying that a modern incinerator plant would usually employs about 60 people.
“If you put it in those sort of terms, splashed across the newspaper that somehow there are 600 jobs at jeopardy, that puts any minister under severe pressure. But I won't be pressurised and I won't deviate from the course I've embarked upon," he said.