Sunday 30 November 2008

Waste conference told of tension and uncertainty

Lack of regulation and structured legislation on waste management is continuing to fuel tensions between public and private waste collectors and is making it more difficult to secure finance for waste infrastructure, ac cording to speakers at an annual waste summit in Croke Park last week.

In a discussion between the public and private sector on the future of waste management in Ireland, Waterford county manager Ray O’Dwyer said that, if the private operators want control of the waste sector, they must deal ‘‘with the PSO(public service obligation) side, civic amenities, litter, clean-ups and the waiver scheme.”

Fighting with each other is not a constructive way to find a solution to the current problems; we also need clarity of policy and legislation and I hope that, in five years’ time, we have a suite of waste treatments that are bankable, affordable and sustainable,” O’Dwyer said.

There was also much debate about the merits of incineration versus mechanical biological treatment (MBT). MBT involves sorting and streaming waste and is advocated by environment minister John Gormley. Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) representatives said that ‘‘all elements of all the different technologies have a part to play’’.

Alison Fanagan of A&L Goodbody’s said the fact the international review of waste management in Ireland would not be complete until July 2009,was also proving problematic.

‘‘There have been around five different policy documents in the last ten years, and now another is due that could totally change the current direction of management - so it is very difficult for those in the area to commit to certain infrastructures, or raise the finance to invest in them,” she said.

‘‘It is hard to convince banks to lend money, when for example MBT is not in the existing policy but it is favoured by minister Gormley.”

The sixth National Waste Summit was organised by The Sunday Business Post and iQuest.

Sunday Business Post

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