Tuesday 25 November 2008

Cork harbour residents may escape costs

ANTI-INCINERATION campaigners have welcomed a decision by Minister for the Environment John Gormley to ask the Supreme Court to formally revoke a costs order awarded to the State two weeks ago against Cork harbour residents.

A spokeswoman for Cork Harbour Area for a Safe Environment (Chase) said she was "delighted and proud" that the State, along with Mr Gormley and his department, saw fit not to enforce the costs order.

Chase noted that incineration company Indaver had declined to follow suit.

It has also emerged that High Court cases against An Bord Pleanála, the Environmental Protection Agency, the State and the Attorney General have been withdrawn on the agreement of all parties.

The request was made by the residents on the basis that planning for the Ringaskiddy incinerator expired in January 2009 and at that stage there would be no justification in proceeding with the court cases.

All parties except An Bord Pleanála have agreed to bear their own High Court costs.

An Bord Pleanála has made a formal request for a costs order, which was opposed by the residents and which will be heard by the court next Monday.

A spokeswoman for Chase said it was an important day for community participation.

"We are delighted and proud. By the time Indaver's planning expires in January 2009, we expect to be fighting new fast-track proposals for 100,000-tonne hazardous and 140,000-tonne municipal waste incinerators."

On November 11th, the Supreme Court ordered the Ringaskiddy and District Residents Association and a number of individuals to pay the legal costs of their unsuccessful attempts to further adjourn two legal challenges to the proposed €75 million development of the State's first hazardous waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy.

The residents had sought the adjournments pending the outcome of a legal action against Ireland in the European Court of Justice by the European Commission.

The action is based on the commission's formal view that Ireland has failed to properly transpose into Irish law an EC directive relating to the environmental impact assessment of public and private projects, including incinerators.

Labour TD for Cork South Central and party spokesman on local government Ciarán Lynch also welcomed the decision by the State not to pursue costs, saying "it would seem that common sense" had prevailed.

"The motivations of the Chase campaign group have always been to act in the public interest and they took this case for the important purpose of clarifying the law and ensuring proper planning," Mr Lynch said.

"It is important that the concept and the principle of the participation by community groups in public debate and public campaigns be upheld, because otherwise the planning process is in danger of becoming little more than a charter for the rich and powerful."

Irish Times


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