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Nationwide network of incinerators on the way

Irish Independent, Saturday January 17th 2004

A NETWORK of incinerators across the country now seems certain after the decision yesterday to grant planning permission to a controversial toxic waste facility in Cork.

The decision by An Bord Pleanala to give the green light to the country's first commercial toxic waste incinerator was greeted with dismay by residents and environmentalists who are now planning a High Court challenge.

They hope to force a judicial review of the decision to grant permission for Belgian firm Indaver's 100m waste facility at Cork Harbour.

An Bord Pleanala went against the recommendation of its senior planning inspector Philip Jones and the vast majority of local people in allowing the project to proceed.

The ruling signals the direction of future policy in relation to incinerators around the country.

The board said the project was ratified because of "national policy" which dictates that Ireland must become self-sufficient in terms of handling toxic waste. Ireland is currently forced to export around 100,000 tonnes of waste for overseas disposal.

It is likely that responsibility for incinerators will be transferred to the proposed new National Infrastructure Board, a one-stop shop for speeding up projects of major national importance.

The planning board ratified the project by a 9-1 vote despite the fact that Mr Jones, who chaired an oral hearing into the project last October, recommended that the plan be turned down.

He maintained the project should be rejected on seven specific grounds, ranging from its residential impact to its breach of local planning guidelines.

Last night Environment Minister Martin Cullen said incinerators are crucial for Ireland's waste management system.

"The reality of it is the EU has put Ireland under tremendous pressure and rightly have told all countries within the EU they will not allow the exportation of toxic waste into the future."

He called for a "mature" approach to the situation. "I am of course aware of people's concerns and they have to be dealt with."

Cork's Fianna Fail backbencher Batt O'Keeffe described the decision to give the project the go ahead as "preposterous and ridiculous".

Mr O'Keeffe, who opposed the project at the An Bord Pleanala hearing, said the independence of the planning board had been called into question.

Green Party TD Dan Boyle claimed the board had caved into political pressure from Mr Cullen to grant planning permission despite the grounds for refusal listed by its own inspector.

Health Minister Micheal Martin rejected suggestions that the decision was political.

"That's simply not true. An Bord Pleanala is a totally independent body. That's why it was set up like that," he said.

But Mr Martin also said he had his own reservations about the incinerator being situated in an area with such a large presence of pharmaceutical plants already.

Pressure group Cork Harbour for A Safe Environment (CHASE) called it a "black day for Ringaskiddy and for Cork".

Chairwoman Mary O'Leary said: "We will fight on. We will use every avenue open to us to oppose this."

The company must now apply for a licence from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Alison O'Connor and Ralph Riegel

Irish Independent &


Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
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