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Irish Examiner - 06-06-05
Health concerns - Fast-tracking incinerators ignores fears

AS local communities up and down the country can attest, health concerns are invariably discounted by planning inquiries into contentious projects.

Fuelling widespread perceptions that public fears are being ignored, Environment Minister Dick Roche is planning to remove key decisions from the democratic process by fast-tracking such projects as incinerators, dumps, power lines and other infrastructure proposals likely to encounter local opposition.

But in a glaring example of political NIMBY (not in my backyard), the Cabinet has inexplicably excluded the Ringsend incinerator in the heart of Justice Minister Michael McDowell's constituency from new planning rules requiring incinerators to go direcdy to An Bord Pleanila, thus bypassing the need for local authority approval. So far the Department of the Environment has failed to respond to a study published more than two years ago which said there was evidence that incinerator
emissions could be associated with respiratory disease.

There can be no excuse for this undue delay in reacting to a report which the department itself commisisioned. To argue that a recent British report had to be taken into account does not wash since it was published over a year ago.

In a global review of research on the effects of incineration and landfill, the Health Research Board also found a possible association between certain cancers and living close to incinerator sites.

Though it stressed evidence of a link between cancer and proximity to an incinerator was not conclusive, the report highlighted the lack of equipment to monitor the effects of incineration on health. By fast-tracking a national network of incinerators, the Government stands accused of steam-rolling over community concerns.


Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishop's Road, Cobh, Co. Cork
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