Tuesday 11 March 2008

Meath incinerator plan sparks local anger over health worries

A CROWD estimated at 400 marched to the entrance of north Meath rendering company College Proteins yesterday in protest at its plans to build an eight-megawatt biomass combined heat-and-power plant at Nobber, Co Meath.

The power would be generated through the incineration and the firm says two megawatts would be used for its own operations and the balance would be exported to the national electricity grid.

There is much local opposition to the incinerator. The campaign group ran adverts on local radio this week calling on people to join in the march.

Local MEP Mairéad McGuinness told the crowd she believed efforts were under way to "reclassify incineration as a form of recycling because energy can be got from it".

She said it was an issue "the Greens were strong on but are weak on now in Government".

Among the protesters was local GP Dr Martin Whyte, who said: "I spend my working days and professional life trying to maintain good health and promoting good health and this would be a retrograde step."

He claims it would result in "toxic emissions including dioxins which are the most toxic chemicals one can breathe. There will also be fine particles emitted. This will particularly affect people with chronic respiratory and cardiovascular problems as well as pregnant women and newborns."

He did not accept that incinerators built to the highest standards would be safe. "All incinerators release emissions and pollute to a level. In Ireland the Health Research Board said five years ago that it did not have the expertise or resources to monitor the health of the population in the vicinity of incinerators. I don't believe that has changed."

An Bord Pleanála has said the project falls under the scope of the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act, 2006, which means the firm must apply to it for planning permission.

Chief executive of College Proteins John Gilroy said: "We have engaged a team of expert consultants to prepare the plans for this exciting development. We are committed to a policy of full and open consultation with our neighbours and with the various regulatory agencies and other stakeholders."

He said the power plant would replace fossil fuel-generated electricity with biomass carbon-neutral fuels, and would cut carbon emissions equivalent to taking 20,000 cars off the road.

The reduction in emissions would equate to 1 per cent of the national carbon emissions reduction target as set out in the Kyoto Protocol, for Ireland."

A municipal waste incinerator is also due to be built in Carranstown, south Meath, and Fine Gael TD Shane McEntee who lives in Nobber said: "Meath is in danger of becoming the dumping ground for Dublin's waste and waste from the surrounding counties."

The Irish Times

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