INDAVER will today claim its plans for a toxic waste incinerator in east Cork will not only resolve Ireland’s mounting waste mountain but will also deal with the expensive problem of contaminated soils and sludges at the former Irish Steel facility in the region.
On the second day of what is likely to be a three-week An Bord Pleanála hearing, the Belgian incineration company will say its project planned for Ringaskiddy has the potential to get deal with the "environmental and financial headache" the Irish Steel facility has left on Haulbowline Island.
It will also claim that Ireland’s landfill options are diminishing and that mechanical biological treatment, as favoured by the Government, still creates waste which must be dealt with.
Yesterday, An Bord Pleanála inspector Oznur Yucel-Finn revealed that the board had received 295 written submissions with 1,099 signatures excluding those of umbrella groups from around the east Cork region and beyond.
Before the hearing even got going, solicitor Joe Noonan representing the Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment questioned the impartiality of An Bord Pleanála.
He pointed out that in 2003, in the first hearing on the planned incinerator for Ringaskiddy, the board’s then inspector Philip Jones recommended refusal of the development but that was overturned by the board itself. He said when a High Court challenge by objectors to that decision lapsed, all sides, including Indaver, agreed to pay their own costs apart from the board which, he said, pursued private individuals for its costs.
"We therefore come to this hearing with trepidation," he said.
Yesterday the new inspector, Ms Yucel-Finn, said she would reach her own conclusions but the board would make the overall decision.
Also yesterday, Michael Gillen of Pharmachem Ireland, giving evidence on behalf of Indaver, said a lack of an integrated waste infrastructure was a major challenge to industries such as the pharmaceutical sector. He said at present those companies were having to export large levels of waste at high cost.
"Ireland’s main competitors for foreign direct investment, Singapore, Puerto Rico and Switzerland all have integrated waste management plans that work. For example in 2005 of the municipal waste generated in Singapore, 5% went to landfill, 46% was converted to energy and 49% was recycled. That year Ireland sent 65% to landfill, 0% was converted into energy and 35% was recycled.