Wednesday 11 February 2009

Rathcoole incinerator proposal rejected

THE COMPANY behind a €250 million waste-to-energy plant proposed for Rathcoole in west Dublin is to meet its advisers this morning to see if there is any future for the plan, following announcement of its rejection yesterday by An Bord Pleanála.

The board’s strategic infrastructure division cited three reasons for refusing the project: the fact that the plant would be “in conflict” with the Dublin waste management plan which relies on the already-approved Poolbeg incinerator; traffic volumes and access to the N7; and the facility’s stack height which would constitute “an unacceptable risk of pollution of the environment”.

An Bord Pleanála also ordered that Energy Answers International Ltd, a subsidiary of the US waste-to-energy company Energy Answers International Inc, pay almost €150,000 towards costs incurred by the objectors along with its own.

In a statement after the decision was announced yesterday, Energy Answers International expressed its “disappointment”.

The company said it believed it had put forward a strong case for the project and it would have created up to 300 jobs during the 2½-year construction period, with annual wages in the region of €7.1 million.

Energy Answers International claimed the projected amount of goods and services sourced locally would have been approximately €23.2 million per year.

The company said it would study the refusal before making a decision on the future of the project.

Sources added that the company would be meeting its planning advisers this morning to see if the proposal had any future.

While it is understood the developer believes the issues of traffic access and stack height could be overcome, sources said it was difficult to see how the issue of conflict with the Dublin waste management plan could be set aside.

Rathcoole Against Incineration Dioxins (Raid) spokesman Liam McDermott said the refusal of the planning application should pressurise the Government into creating “other ways of dealing with our waste – that is, recycling, composting and biodegradable methods.

“Not alone are those methods more environmentally friendly but they will create thousands of much-needed jobs throughout the country.”

A clearly delighted Mr McDermott said locals were “excited, exuberant, exhilarated and enthralled with indescribable emotion at the news that An Bord Pleanála has refused planning permission to Energy Answers to build a waste incinerator at Behan’s Quarry in Rathcoole”.

Mr McDermott said the group had been “always confident” of the outcome: “Champagne corks will be popping in Rathcoole, Saggart and Newcastle and the Raid committee hope that their huge campaign will offer great hope and encouragement to other committees throughout the country who are opposing similar planning applications.”

The decision was also welcomed by a number of local politicians, among them the Fine Gael leader in the Seanad, Frances Fitzgerald, who gave evidence at the oral hearing. She said Fine Gael had “always maintained that Dublin didn’t need another incinerator, particularly now when a review of waste management strategy is under way”.

Ms Fitzgerald described the decision as “a complete victory for the communities of Rathcoole, Saggart, Clondalkin, Newcastle and Brittas . . . This is proof that if people unite and work solidly together, change for the better is possible.

“Today is a victory for people power in the planning process,” Ms Fitzgerald concluded.

The decision was also welcomed by Labour TDs Joanna Tuffy of Dublin Mid West and Emmet Stagg of Kildare North.

“Having made a submission to An Bord Pleanála and attended oral hearing where I spoke out against the proposals, I am delighted with today’s decision to refuse permission to the proposed incinerator at Rathcoole,” said Ms Tuffy.

Mr Stagg said the decision represented “a victory for people power. I would like to congratulate the various groups and people in Kill who mounted a strong campaign against this proposed incinerator, and would like to praise in particular the campaign organised by Carole Collins from The Stables in Kill.

“The proposal is now dead in the water and the residents of Kill, Johnstown, Eadestown, Rathmore and Kilteel should celebrate their victory,” he added.

Irish Times

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