Cullen plans to fast-track building of
By Harry McGee The Irish Examiner
ENVIRONMENT Minister Martin Cullen plans to fast-track
the construction of municipal waste incinerators around the
country by the end of the Government’s term in
Mr Cullen aims to introduce the incinerators under the
proposed National Infrastructure Board (NIB). Seven
incinerators are planned under regional waste management
strategies but those that have reached the planning stages
have become bogged down in the planning process because of
fierce local objections.
sources confirmed to the Irish Examiner yesterday that the minister’s view of Ireland’s growing
waste management problem was “realistic” and that urgent
action was need to replace municipal land-fills, most of which
will have reached capacity by 2006.
In terms of
where Ireland stood on
waste-management in European terms, the source said: “We are
in the relegation zone. We need to do something about it
While remaining tight-lipped on the planned structure
and functions of the NIB yesterday, the minister reiterated
his view that emissions from thermal-treatment plans comprised
less than 2% of dioxins in the atmosphere, a level that was
less harmful than dioxins emitted by bonfires on Hallowe’en
Mr Cullen favours a limited number of high-tech thermal
treatment facilities around the country.
So far, one municipal plant in Co Meath, run by private
company Indaver, has received permission while another in
Ringaskiddy is currently in the planning process.
regional plans, further plants are earmarked for the south-east, Connacht, the
north-east, Dublin, the midlands, and in
the Limerick-Clare-Kerry region.
The minister was speaking at the launch of the Office
of Environment Enforcement (OEE) yesterday and also promised
that he would target the “quick-buck” merchants who flouted
The OEE, with 70 staff, will be a unit of the
Environmental Protection Agency that will enforce waste and
pollution control licences, supervise the environmental
performances of local authorities and have power to prosecute
for licence breaches and illegal dumping.
The 2003 Environment Act substantially increases the
maximum fines of 15m for environmental pollution.
Significantly, it also provides for a reversal of the burden
of proof, leaving the defendant to prove that an activity did
not cause environmental pollution.
Also, for the first time, landowners can be deemed to
be complicit in illegal dumping on their land unless they can