Tuesday 18 November 2008

Opposition to Rathcoole incinerator expressed at oral hearing

A RANGE of issues from traffic to possible adverse effects on human and animal health, to the height of a proposed chimney stack, were raised by politicians objecting to an incinerator planned for west Dublin yesterday.

The politicians - including Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs John Curran, Fine Gael's Senate leader Frances Fitzgerald and Kildare North TDs Bernard Durkan (FG), and Emmet Stagg (Lab) - individually told a Bord Pleanála oral hearing the application should be refused.

Energy Answers International is seeking permission through Bord Pleanála's strategic infrastructure division for a €200 million incinerator with ability to recover sufficient energy to power 43,000 homes. The plant would use 365,000 tonnes of residual municipal waste; recover ferrous and non-ferrous metals; and use boiler ash in the manufacture of concrete blocks. It would be located in a quarry known as Behan's Quarry, some 3km (2 miles) from Rathcoole, west Dublin.

On the conclusion of the applicant's submission for permission yesterday, Ms Fitzgerald described the project as "premature". She said Minister for the Environment John Gormley and the Government had indicated a review of waste management policy was under way. In advance of this the application could "make incineration the cornerstone of such a policy".

"Under the Planning Act 2000 the Minister could have taken this step and informed the hearing that this incinerator is not required to meet capacity. It is disappointing that he did not do this," she said.

Ms Fitzgerald was supported by party colleague Bernard Durkan who also maintained the capacity of the proposed plant, at 365,000 tonnes per year, was unnecessary and contrary to the waste management plans of local authorities.

Labour's Emmet Stagg said that he had established by parliamentary questions to Mr Gormley and former taoiseach Bertie Ahern that the "the proposal was not in accordance with Government policy".

John Curran questioned the height of the chimney of the proposed facility and whether its location - low in the quarry - would result in the stack being only about 9m above the landscape.

The hearing was addressed by environmentalist Peter Sweetman who insisted that a number of assertions in the application were either misleading or inaccurate.

The application is also being opposed by local groups, including Rathcoole Against Incinerator Dioxins. Spokesman Liam McDermott said the community expected to be asked to outline its objections this week.

The Irish Times


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