Wednesday 28 May 2008

Residents promise to fight thermal waste treatment plant plans

LOCAL residents in the Dublin suburb of Rathcoole have vowed to oppose plans by a US waste management company to build a waste treatment plant close to the main N7 route.

A spokesperson for the Rathcoole Community Council said last night that it has serious concerns about the threat that the proposed plant at Behan’s Quarry posed to people living in the area.

It follows formal notification issued yesterday by US firm, Energy Answers International, that it will lodge an application for planning permission for the €200 million facility with An Bord Pleanála.

The company was able to bypass seeking planning permission from South Dublin County Council after An Bord Pleanála ruled last December that the project could avail of a fast-track procedure which allows strategic infrastructural developments to avoid requiring planning permission from a local authority.

Energy Answers claims its plant, which it describes as “a resource recovery project”, is the first of its kind in Ireland. It will incorporate both mechanical and thermal treatment facilities.

It objects to the term ‘incinerator’ used by opponents of the plant, including the Rathcoole Community Council.

It plans to thermally treat 356,000 tons of non-hazardous municipal solid waste each year. The company claims the process will also allow for 10% of the treated waste to be recoverable and recyclable, which can provide electricity for 43,000 homes.

Energy Answers also claims the entire project will be privately financed without the need to seek guarantees of income from local authorities.

However, a spokesperson for Rathcoole Community Council said it was concerned about the company’s track record in operating a similar plant in the US.

She also claimed local residents were worried about that prevailing south-west winds would carry any emissions from the plant in the direction of large populations in nearby Rathcoole and Tallaght.

The Rathcoole Community Council has also questioned the need for the facility on the basis that the four Dublin local authorities are supporting a similar controversial project on the Poolbeg peninsula in Ringsend.

The spokesperson said locals were suspicious that the Rathcoole plant could give the Government an excuse not to proceed with the proposed incinerator in Poolbeg.

“It would suit [Minister for the Environment] John Gormley because of the opposition he is facing in his own constituency,” she remarked.

It is expected that An Bord Pleanála will hold a public hearing into the matter before making its decision.

Irish Examiner

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