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Irish Examiner - 01/11/04
Roche defends EPA move on incinerator licences
By Mary Dundon, Political Reporter

ENVIRONMENT Minister Dick Roche last night defended the decision by the Environment Protection Agency to grant licences to two incinerators in Cork and Meath.

The EPA granted Indaver Ireland draft licences to develop a €93 million hazardous waste incinerator in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, and an €85 million non-hazardous waste incinerator in Carranstown, Duleek, Co Meath.

Residents in both counties are opposed to the decision, because they claim it is hazardous to their health and the Cork group is fighting it in the High Court. But Mr Roche said incineration was “part and parcel” of our fully-integrated waste disposal system.

“In the end of the day if we do not want to have material going to landfill, we have to have some incineration,” he told RTÉ’s Week in Politics programme.

The minister insisted that An Bord Pleanála and the EPA are independent agencies. “I’m not going to interfere with the independence of these agencies as it would make a mockery of their work,” he added.

But Fine Gael environment spokesman Fergus O’Dowd said the main problem is that the two agencies charged with giving the go-ahead to these incinerators do not have any power to take in medical considerations.

“The EPA did not involve any medical expert to say if the incinerator was safe or not, so the objectors are left with a decision that is made without any medical advice,” said Mr O’Dowd.

And the EPA director general wrote to the Department of Health last year pointing this out, he added.

Former Junior Justice Minister Mary Wallace told RTÉ she is opposed to incineration in Meath.

On the question of e-voting, Mr Roche said there was a possibility of having it before the next general election if there was a referendum. Meanwhile, a war-of words broke out between the minister and the Green Party over the controversial Wicklow County Draft Development Plan.

Green Party Cllr Deirdre de Búrca called on the minister to send a department official to monitor Wicklow County Council’s final meeting on it today.

She said the making of the plan to date has been mired with controversy and the credibility of the planning process in County Wicklow was at stake.

But the minister said he could not send one of his officials to monitor a local authority’s meeting as it would be seen as a “Stalinist” move. “The minister believes it would be autocratic for him to interfere with the independence of a local authority and he is surprised at the proposal,” his spokesman added. The Green Party rejected the “Stalinist” claim.


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