Thursday, 31 December 2009

State faces bill if incinerator is scrapped, city manager warns

INTERFERENCE WITH the Poolbeg incinerator project could leave the State facing a multimillion euro compensation bill, Dublin city manager John Tierney has warned.

The plant is being built in the face of opposition from Minister for the Environment John Gormley who said he intends to change waste policy to introduce a cap on incineration. However Mr Tierney said the research Mr Gormley was using to change policy had “fundamental flaws” and the Minister “must be aware” that the council had a statutory obligation to go ahead with the incinerator.

Mr Tierney was speaking for the first time against the sustained criticism from Mr Gormley of the planned incinerator.

The four Dublin local authorities had entered into a contract to build the incinerator because of Government policy, Mr Tierney said. In the region of €120 million of public money had already been spent on the incinerator as a “direct result” of this policy, he said. Financial liabilities could arise if the contract was terminated or if policies were enacted to make it void, he added.

Mr Gormley has for several years been one of the most vociferous opponents of the incinerator which is located in his constituency of Dublin South East.

As a Green Party TD he made a submission to An Bord Plean├íla against the city council’s application for permission for the facility. However on becoming Minister for the Environment in 2007 he was legally precluded from interfering in a statutory process that had already begun.

After the incinerator was granted permission, Mr Gormley initiated an international review of waste management policy. Published just last month, the review suggests measures to limit the amount of waste available for incineration.

Mr Tierney said there were “fundamental flaws” in the review and warned if some of its proposals were implemented they may be challenged. “The Dublin local authorities believe that there are fundamental flaws in the international review which is being used by the Minister as the basis for his reform of current policy.”

He insists the council, on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities, entered into the contract with the developers of the consortium, Covanta/Dong, precisely because of Government policy. “The Minister said . . . we should not have entered into the contract in the first place. The Minister must be aware that we are under a statutory obligation to implement the objectives of the Waste Management Plan.”

Irish Times

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