Wednesday 11 February 2009

'People power victory' as incinerator turned down

A CHAMPION racehorse trainer has expressed his delight after plans for a major incinerator in the heart of the equine industry were rejected yesterday.

Ted Walsh, who trained English Grand National winner Papillon, said the "Thoroughbred County" of Kildare didn't want a "bad neighbour" on its doorstep.

Mr Walsh was preparing to travel to Dundalk for horse trials when he heard the news that An Bord Pleanala had refused the application by US company, Energy Answers International (EAI), to build the €250m facility off the N7 at Rathcoole, Co Dublin, on three grounds.

The board found the incinerator would pose an "unacceptable risk of pollution" in its refusal. It said a separate incinerator was already approved for south Dublin at Poolbeg.

It also stated that the project would create "significant traffic" including a "large percentage of heavy commercial vehicles" in the area.


Almost 300 objections to the project had been lodged with An Bord Pleanala, including a number of high-profile submissions from the Kildare equine industry.

The Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Naas Race Course, Kildare Equestrian Centre and Ted Walsh opposed the development.

"There are a lot of very learned people in An Bord Pleanala and they heard everybody's objections," Mr Walsh told the Irish Independent yesterday.

"They weighed it up and saw that the minuses far outnumbered the pluses.

"I'm sure everybody, like myself, who is a resident or within walking distance of the incinerator is very happy."

Rathcoole Against Incinerator Dioxins (RAID), which mounted a high-profile campaign against the waste facility, said the "common people" were "exhilarated" by the decision.

However, spokesman for the group, Liam McDermott, said they were also "very angry that an American company could cost ordinary people €85,000".

An Bord Pleanala has directed EAI to pay a portion of RAID's costs.

However, the shortfall is being made up locally through fundraising.

"You have to have the experts behind you if you go into any oral hearing. That's what we did," said Mr McDermott.

The Kill Group Stables in Co Kildare said they were "over the moon" at the decision.

Kildare North TD Emmet Stagg said it was a "victory for people power". Dublin Mid-West Senator Frances Fitzgerald added that the planned incinerator was "excessive".

The National Roads Authority (NRA) had objected to the application because of the potential effects on traffic congestion on the N7. "It's imperative you don't diminish the value of the infrastructure when we are spending billions of euro around the country," said the NRA's Sean O'Neill.

Meanwhile, EAI said it was "disappointed" at the decision of the planning appeals body as it had put forward a "strong case". "The total investment by Energy Answers International in this project would have amounted to approximately €250m," a statement from the company said. It added that the project would have created up to 300 jobs during the construction period and almost 80 long-term jobs.

"Additionally, the project would have generated annual wages and benefits in the region of €7.1m and the projected amount of goods and services sourced locally would have been approximately €23.2m per year," the company said.

EAI now faces a bill of €142,380 towards costs incurred by objectors, including planning authorities and RAID.

Eimear Ni Bhraonain and Louise Hogan
Irish Times

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