Wednesday 13 July 2011

Minister drops plans for levy on incineration

Move welcomed by firm behind Poolbeg project.

A LEVY on incineration proposed by former minister for the environment John Gormley has been scrapped.

The move by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan reverses the previous government's opposition to incineration and will be seen as a major boost for the economic viability of Dublin's proposed Poolbeg incinerator.

The move has already been welcomed by Covanta, the company behind the Poolbeg facility.

In a statement last night Covanta said Mr Hogan's action was "consistent with policies that have been adopted by numerous EU countries that have achieved significant success in diverting waste from landfill".

Dublin City Council, which was contracted to supply waste to the incinerator, said it was "pleased" with Mr Hogan's decision.

The council said the decision "makes sense, will enable maximum resource efficiency from waste management", and is in line with Irish and EU policy.
The council, which operates the region's waste management policy on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities, currently transports waste to landfill sites outside the region.

PJ Rudden who devised most of the State's regional waste management plans, including Dublin's, said the move indicated "Ireland is open for business".

He said the removal of plans for the levy should be seen "as part of Ireland's economic revival".

"When the Poolbeg incinerator opens Dublin will not send one tonne of waste to landfill," he said.

The move was, however, criticised by Green Party leader Eamon Ryan who said it was a "remarkable reversal" of policy and one which "gives the green light to a project that could cost the Irish people dearly".

"It will scupper the development of recycling," he said.

The Irish Waste Management Association, which has been critical of incineration, said the move could see the State's environment fund run out.

Environmental levies such as the plastic bag tax and landfill levies are directed to the environment fund to be used on environmental projects, including the cleaning up of illegal dumps.

But Mr Hogan said: "Ireland's immediate challenge is to move away from its overdependence on landfill.

"Almost two-thirds of waste still goes to landfill and Ireland must comply with strict limits under the landfill directive."

He said the State needed an alternative to landfill and incineration was the only alternative.

A spokeswoman for Mr Hogan added that the move was also in line with a review by the National Competitive Council which said a levy was inappropriate until the industry was established here.

Mr Hogan has not ruled out an incineration levy at a later date.

The Irish Times

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