THE DEVELOPERS of the €350 million incinerator proposed for Poolbeg in Dublin, which is opposed by Minister for the Environment John Gormley, have requested a meeting with Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
Scott Whitney, president of Covanta Europe, told a press conference in Dublin yesterday the company had been in touch with Mr Cowen’s office. “We’ve suggested that at some point a meeting with the Taoiseach might be useful,” Mr Whitney said.
A spokeswoman for the Taoiseach confirmed the request for a meeting had been received and said it was “under consideration”. The proposed incinerator would be located in Mr Gormley’s constituency of Dublin South East.
Mr Gormley’s spokesman said: “This Government will not be dictated to by a private company into changing its waste policy. The aim of Government is to have a waste policy that looks after the interests of taxpayers, consumers and the environment.”
Mr Gormley last week published a draft waste policy plan which would make such incinerators unviable economically.
Mr Whitney insisted the proposed facility was not too large, adding: “Covanta’s always been confident that this project is correctly sized.”
Referring to the Minister’s preferred waste management solution, mechanical biological treatment (MBT), Mr Whitney said: “Why would the Ministry for the Environment want Dubliners to pay more for a less environmentally friendly process?”
He said the proposed project had been extensively vetted, reviewed and approved by “so many Government agencies that I can hardly keep track of them anymore”. He said the application for a foreshore licence was lodged in December 2008 and was still pending.
Referring to Mr Gormley, Mr Whitney said: “It seems to us that he’s saying, in his role as a judge relative to this situation, I know you’re guilty but I’ll give you a fair trial before I hang you.”
Mr Whitney said the construction process had been suspended since May 7th, although site clearance and some excavation had been carried out, “and we’re ready to ramp up at any time when the circumstances dictate”. He claimed the lack of a foreshore licence was holding up the project.
Asked if Covanta would consider suing the State if the project did not go ahead, he said “we wouldn’t rule anything out at this point”.
Mr Whitney said that Covanta had invested “tens of millions of euro to date” in the Poolbeg project.