Opponents vow to step up incinerator protests
Politicians and residents today pledged a fierce four-week fight against plans for controversial toxic waste burners in their areas.
The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed proposals to grant licences for two refuse incinerators had been outlined, and a month long public consultation had begun.
Activists from counties Cork and Meath protested at the Dáil against Government strategy and promised to exhaust the 28-day debate to force a halt to the contentious burners.
Linda Fitzpatrick, spokeswoman for Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment, called on Trade and Enterprise Minister Micháel Martin to be more “directly involved” after taking up his new Cabinet post.
“We will be talking to him, It’s much more specific now that he is Trade and Enterprise Minster,” Mrs Fitzpatrick said.
“What he said before as Health Minister was that he wasn’t for it, but that he needed to be convinced that it was worse for people’s health than landfill.
The group said more than 30,000 residents were behind them, along with local councillors and TDs from all parties. And the group promised to use public for a, petitions, and the courts to block the burners.
Indaver Ireland had applied for an incineration licence to handle hazardous and non-hazardous waste in Ringaskiddy, Cork, and non-hazardous materials in Duleek, Meath.
An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for the Cork incinerator last January by a majority of nine to one as it was in line with Government waste management policy.
But a senior inspector gave 14 reasons why the site should be refused.
Dan Boyle, Green Party TD, fuelled the debate and said it was questionable that Mary Kelly, EPA director general, was on record as favouring incineration.
And he also queried the role EPA director Laura Burke, a former Indaver employee, may have played.
“What faith can the general public have in a fair and impartial EPA when policy seems pre-determined and the Agency does not seem to genuinely address public concerns on such issues of high controversy and environmental consequence?” he said.
A High Court challenge against An Bord Pleanála’s approval of the controversial burner in Ringaskiddy was due to go ahead today, but was postponed because no judge was available.
The case, which has already been adjourned several times, could now be delayed until the New Year.
In an attempt to ease public fears the EPA claimed “stringent conditions” would be imposed on the management, operation, control and monitoring of the site.
They also said conditions would meet or exceed the highest standards set down by European directives.
The Ringaskiddy plant, which will cost more than €75m, will deal with 100,000 tonnes of industrial and commercial waste each year.
The burner, which could be up and running by 2007 and employ 50 people, will handle both hazardous and non-hazardous materials.
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment