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Irish Examiner - 24/10/05
EPA accused of ‘guerrilla tactics’ on incinerator

THERE are many who will view the recent announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to delay until Christmas a decision on the national hazardous waste incinerator as a cynical exercise in media manipulation.

After all, who will pay much attention to such an announcement during the Christmas holidays?

The EPA has a long-established modus operandi of issuing controversial pollution permits during periods of least media attention.

Environmentalists can testify to the number of Christmas and summer holidays that have been interrupted by these ‘guerrilla tactics’ from the agency since its inception in 1993.

However, Cork Environmental Alliance would prefer to take the view that this further postponement of a decision in this case is indicative of the agency’s determination to give the matter due and fair consideration.

To this end it is pity that the agency’s board members failed to attend a single session of the oral hearing of appeals against the proposed pollution licence which ran for almost three weeks last February in Cork. Had the directors bothered to attend that hearing, it is likely they would have a clearer understanding of the questions now causing disruptive and unwelcome delays in the pollution licensing system.

Unfortunately, the EPA has the unique legislative distinction of being judge and jury in matters relating to environmental pollution in this country. Thus the agency directors argue that as they themselves had issued the proposed pollution licence for the incinerator, it would not be appropriate for them to attend their own hearing of appeals against their own permit - an appeal on which they have now been deliberating for almost a year.

Furthermore, the EPA appears to be a comfortable accomplice in the cat-and-mouse game being played between the State and unwilling communities all over Ireland. For the purposes of waste management the country has been divided into regions with each devising and adopting a waste plan. As there is not enough waste generated nationally to justify an incinerator in each region, it is the case that whichever community blinks first and allows incineration will get all the waste from around the country.

As an example the Kerry, Limerick and Clare region does not have an incinerator and their waste management plan makes it clear that waste from those counties is almost certain to be diverted to Ringaskiddy for disposal.

However, there is one bit of good news for the people of Cork harbour. This further delay in reaching a decision on the Ringaskiddy development means that, whatever the outcome, it is likely to occur in the run-up to a general election. With Cork South Central reduced from a five- to a four-seat constituency there will be ample opportunity for the voters of Cork harbour to give the pro-incineration parties of Fianna Fáil and the PDs a sharp lesson in representative democracy.

Derry Chambers
Cork Environmental Alliance
Gort an Éadain
Cill na Martra
Co Chorcaí

     

Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishop's Road, Cobh, Co. Cork
Tel - 021 481 5564      Email - info@chaseireland.org
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