Sunday 24 May 2009

D4 incinerator construction 'to begin shortly'

CONSTRUCTION works on a controversial Dublin incinerator are to begin within weeks in a move that opponents claim will prove "fatal" to the political life of environment minister and local TD John Gormley.

Despite recent reports that banking finance was not available, Covanta, the US company behind the project, insists funding is in place and construction will proceed.

A reliable source also told the Sunday Tribune that, barring any unexpected delays, construction work is due to begin in a matter of weeks. A contractor is also understood to be in place.

"We are in the final stages of pre-construction activity. The financing to construct the facility is available and we expect to commence construction shortly," Scott Whitney, president of Covanta Europe, said in a statement issued to the Sunday Tribune.

Nobody connected to the project would be drawn on the exact schedule for development.

Local protestors claim that not only will it be "fatal" to the political life of environment minister John Gormley, but that it could lead to substantial local protests.

Damien Cassidy, chairman of the Ringsend Irishtown & Sandymount Environmental Group (RISEG), said that while he would not like to see a repeat of the Shell to Sea protests, it could not be ruled out.

While stressing his belief that the environment minister was personally against the incinerator, Cassidy added that the situation would have a catastrophic effect on his next election bid. "I am satisfied that Minister Gormley is personally not in favour of the incinerator and he never was," he said. "It will be fatal for their candidate Claire Wheeler [in the local elections].

"[Gormley] wouldn't get a seat [in the next general election]. People will not stand for this."

Wheeler defended her party's stance on the issue saying it had "consistently opposed incineration. Covanta has been saying the start of construction was imminent for some time now," she said.

"Considering that Minister Gormley is introducing new incineration levies, and has changed government policy to further reduce waste volumes using Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT), it is clear that this project will not be financially viable, and will collapse."

A spokesman for the minister declined to comment on whether the matter could threaten his seat but said that he had a track record on incineration that was second to none. "He has done more than anybody... to move this country away from incineration," he said.

Sunday Tribune

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