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Irish Independent - 17-01-04
Incinerator decision made 'in national interest'

AN Bord Pleanala said it made its decision to sanction the controversial 100m toxic waste incinerator in Cork harbour in the national interest.

The planning board ratified the project by Belgian firm Indaver by a nine to one vote despite the fact its own inspector, who chaired an oral hearing into the project last October, recommended that the plan be rejected.

Board inspector Philip Jones recommended that the project be rejected on seven specific grounds ranging from its residential impact to its breach of local planning guidelines.

The board also admitted that the decision is in breach of the Cork County Development Plan, which had prompted Cork Co Council to originally refuse Indaver planning permission last May.

Bord Pleanala 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.

Indaver said they were delighted by the decision .

"Obviously we're very happy and we feel it is good for the Cork economy and good for Irish industry," Indaver (Ireland) director, John Ahern said.

However, he admitted work on the project was unlikely to proceed in the short-term.

He added: "We must now apply for a licence from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and, frankly, I would be surprised if there is not an effort by some opponents to take a judicial review."

The planning board decision follows a three-year campaign to get the Ringaskiddy project approved. Indaver first unveiled its plan in 2001. Numerous conditions are attached to the permission including a stipulation that the incinerator can never handle waste imported from outside the State.

Other conditions include

* Indaver make contributions totalling almost 500,000 to Cork Co Council for road, sewerage and environmental works in the area;

* Pay an annual levy to the Council of 127,000;

* Set up a local liaison committee to monitor the incinerator's operation with two delegates each from the Council (planners), Council (councillors), local residents and Indaver itself;

* Operate the plant strictly within Environmental Protection Agency and EU guidelines.

* Undertake detailed measures to ensure the plant's impact on the visual and immediate Ringaskiddy environment is minimal.

The planning authority said its decision was taken in light of the Waste Management Act (1996), the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan (1992) and the Government's waste policy documents, Changing our Ways/Delivering Change (1998).

"It is considered that, subject to compliance with the conditions set out, the site is an appropriate location for a necessary public utility, and that the proposed development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area (including the Martello tower, a protected structure)," a planning board statement said.

"It would also be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience, it would not be prejudicial to the future development of the area for port-related development and would be in accordance with the proper planning and development of the area."

The statement said it was not unusual to overturn an inspector's recommendation with 11pc of decisions taken against such recommendations.

An Bord Pleanala discussed the incinerator project at three separate board meetings before a vote was finally taken this week. The inspector's report runs to over 360 pages.

The board disagreed with the interpretation, and insisted national priorities must be given precedence over local planning.

Ralph Riegel

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

     

Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
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