Thursday 13 November 2008

Rathcoole waste plant oral hearing begins

THE DEVELOPER of a €250 million waste-to-energy plant proposed for west Dublin has moved to reassure the State's top bloodstock figures and local communities that the technology involved would have no adverse effects on human or animal health.

At the opening of a Bord Pleanála hearing yesterday, the developer acknowledged 276 "objections and observations" including "objections raised in relation to the possible adverse consequences of the project on the bloodstock industry in Co Kildare".

The proposed facility would be located on a 14-hectare site at Behan's Quarry south of Rathcoole, on the Kildare/Dublin border.

Among the bloodstock interests granted observer status at the hearing - which allows them to attend and raise issues of concern - are some of Ireland's best-known bloodstock industry names.

These include Goffs plc, Kill International Equestrian Centre, The Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, Naas racecourse and Cavan Developments Bloodstock.

The proposal was outlined at the planning hearing yesterday by senior counsel James Connolly, for the developer Energy Answers International. He said it was anticipated, in relation to the bloodstock industry, that reference would be made to a previous refusal of planning permission by An Bord Pleanála for a project in Co Tipperary.

But he said the Rosegreen project, a proposed meat and bone meal incinerator plant that drew concerted opposition from bloodstock interests, was very different. Rosegreen, he said, featured an intake high in organic material from abattoir waste; utilised anaerobic digestion; was based on a regional road; was in the vicinity of a high number of stud and racing stables; and was "unprecedented in size in Europe". None of these factors applied to the Rathcoole project, he said.

Outlining a list of expert Irish and international witnesses who would be brought forward over the course of the next three hearing days, Mr Connolly said the company would show there "is no scientific basis for concern".

He said it was misleading to refer to the project as an "incinerator". In fact it was "much more than a waste-to-energy process and far more advanced than simple incineration".

However, the comments did little to reassure a number of protesters who had been picketing the inquiry from early yesterday morning. Outside the hearing Deborah McDermott of Raid (Rathcoole Against Incinerator Dioxins) said that, as a mother of three and a chemist, she was completely opposed to the project. "Dioxins are carcinogenic", she said.

Also among the protesters was Fine Gael Senator Frances Fitzgerald who said the proposal "would make incineration the cornerstone of our waste management policy". Ms Fitzgerald said she had written to the Minister for the Environment asking him to reiterate the new Government policy, and ensure that Bord Pleanála took note of it.

Local councillor Therese Ridge said she was concerned about the effects of the plant on the local Holy Family school. Parents and teachers were united in their opposition to the proposal, she said.

The Irish Times

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