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Irish Independent
Stormy hearing on incinerator halted by sound system failure
September 23rd 2003

A HEARING by An Bord Pleanala into the bitterly opposed plan for a waste incinerator near Cork Harbour had to be abandoned for an hour yesterday, to sort out problems with the sound system.

This followed complaints from the very large number of observers present and the chairman of the hearing, Mr Philip Jones explained that An Bord Pleanala was left with no option but to stage the event in the Neptune basketball stadium because no other venue was available which could cater for the large numbers expected to attend.

Outside, more than 200 anti-incineration protestors demonstrated as the Bord Pleanala hearing about the controversial 100m waste incinerator opened.

The oral hearing - expected to be one of the longest running in the history of the State - began as protestors warned that the incinerator represents "an environmental time-bomb" for the communities near Cork Harbour.

The project's backers, Belgian firm, Indaver, insisted that the incinerator will help resolve Ireland's waste management crisis and will also operate to the most exacting environmental and safety standards.

Ironically, the hearing - which is expected to last at least two weeks - opened amid controversial scenes as members of the public repeatedly interrupted Mr Jones, insisting they could not hear proc'eedings due to poor amplification.

"This is an oral hearing but there doesn't seem to much hearing going on," one objector told him.

Mr Jones appealed to the huge number of observers present - many of whom were children wearing school uniforms - to remain quiet and allow the much-criticised amplification system to work.

The hearing will take at least two weeks, with submissions from more than 50 groups. These include a major submission by the first party (Indaver), 24 separate submissions from third parties and 25 submissions from observers.

With each of the third parties entitled to cross-examine witnesses, some analysts warned that the hearing could take more than a month.

Yesterday, the hearing opened as members of Cork Harbour for A Safe Environment (CHASE) were marshalled outside Blackpool's Neptune Stadium in a deliberate show of force from communities including Ringaskiddy, Bishopstown, Carrigaline, Cobh and Monkstown.

Children wearing special chemical suits carried a banner warning "Don't Poison our Future" while several CHASE supporters donned fancy dress to highlight their opposition to the plant.

However, Indaver officials expressed optimism that An Bord Pleanala will uphold the project which is in full accordance with State waste management strategies, managing director John Ahern stressed.

"I believe that An Bord Pleanala will support our case because the project is proposed to the highest standards within the industry and our waste management expertise is clearly required in Ireland which, to date, has been forced to export its toxic waste for treatment and disposal," he said.

Mr Ahern pointed out that within the EU, only Ireland, Greece and Portugal lack the ability through incinerators to deal with their own toxic waste.

Under Indaver's plan, the first phase incinerator development would focus on a 100,000 tonne toxic waste unit - with a second phase development expected to increase the incinerator's capacity to deal with a further 100,000 tonnes of domestic waste.

The incinerator is proposed for a site at Ringaskiddy, beside Cork Harbour, which was purchased from Irish Steel/Irish Ispat.

Ralph Riegel

Irish Independent
http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/ & http://www.unison.ie/

CHASE - Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment, 1 Lower Midleton Street, Cobh, Cork
Tel: 021 481 5564
- Email: info@chaseireland.org