AN ATTEMPT by Dublin City Council to borrow more than € 50 million to complete the purchase of the site of the controversial Poolbeg incinerator has been blocked by councillors.
City manager John Tierney last night sought approval to borrow €50.3 million for site costs and an additional €10.8 million to develop a district heating system using power from the incinerator. Councillors voted by 26 votes to 12 not to allow the council management to seek a loan for the project.
The council had previously estimated the cost of buying the site for the plant at €120 million. The contract with the US developers of the incinerator, Covanta, is under review until next November, but the council has said it is confident the project will be back up and running by the end of this year.
Deputy Lord Mayor Maria Parodi (Lab) said she was "completely against" the approval of any further borrowing for the incinerator and that the request from the council management was premature, when the decision date on the future of the incinerator had been extended to November.
"I am shocked and appalled we are being asked to approve borrowing when we have in front of us such an undetailed report," she added.
Fianna Fáil councillor Jim O'Callaghan said great confusion had been caused in relation to the funding for the plant.
Mr Tierney said that the €50.3 million had already been committed but would be "converted into borrowing" instead of being taken from current funds to prevent the council going into overdraft. The loan would only be drawn down as funds were needed.
The council and the other Dublin local authorities are responsible for providing Covanta with a site for the facility. A report commissioned by former minister for the environment John Gormley from John Hennessy SC found the council would face "very substantial" penalties if it failed to provide Covanta with sufficient municipal waste to fuel it over 25 years.
The Irish Times