THE CONTROVERSIAL Poolbeg incinerator project is set to face further delays and costs following a decision by Dublin City Council to compulsorily purchase 65 plots of land along the coastline.
The council has been asked by Covanta, the company developing the incinerator, to buy the land because it has not yet received a foreshore licence from Minister for the Environment John Gormley.
Assistant city manager Séamus Lyons yesterday said the council had to resort to buying up the land because the “considerable delays” in securing a foreshore licence were “hindering progress on construction of the plant”.
The foreshore licence, which would allow the company use water from the river Liffey for a cooling system for the 600,000 tonne capacity incinerator, was applied for in August 2008.
By taking ownership of the land, the council would no longer need the licence as it would have automatic access to the river water.
Construction of the incinerator began last December but has been suspended since May because, Covanta has said, of the lack of a foreshore licence. By making a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for the 1.7 square kilometres needed for the cooling facility, the council can by-pass Mr Gormley, who is opposed to the development of the incinerator.
The council must seek permission from An Bord Pleanála to execute the orders on each of the 65 sites involved. If the owners, lessees or occupiers of any of the sites object to the order An Bord Pleanála could decide to hold a public hearing on the proposal, which would lead to further delays.
Mr Lyons conceded that these delays could be considerable, but said at least An Bord Pleanála could be relied on to eventually make a decision.
“Given that the application for the foreshore licence has been with government departments for two years Covanta have formally requested the council to use its powers in applying for a CPO.
The council was not withdrawing the application for the licence, Mr Lyons said, and if it was granted first, the CPO process would not be further pursued.
Covanta will bear the cost of buying the 1.7sq km of land. It is not yet known how much this will cost as this will depend on the offer and negotiation process. It will also depend on who owns the land. The council said it was largely in the ownership of Dublin Port Company.
The port company said yesterday that it owns none of it. None of the land is residential, but some plots are sections of access roads to industrial sites and others are public footpaths.
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said the Minister has not been deliberately delaying the foreshore licence application. Responsibility for the licences was only transferred to the Minister last January he said, and there was a backlog of 700 applications.