Irish Independent - Tuesday, February 15
OPPONENTS of a controversial €100m toxic waste incinerator last night threatened to boycott an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oral hearing after it emerged that the agency will not be offering full evidence at the two-week inquiry.
Opponents claimed the absence of senior EPA officials at the hearing into a proposed waste licence allowing waste management company Indaver to operate an incinerator at Ringaskiddy in Cork was "an absolute farce".
The hearing opened yesterday as 80 protesters demonstrated outside.
Last October, the EPA signalled its intention
to grant an outline waste licence for the project.
One of the 15 objectors to the EPA outline licence is Indaver itself, which wants a revision of some of the conditions attached by the agency.
The remaining 14 objectors including environmental protection groups, residents' associations, Green Party TD Dan Boyle, An Taisce, Passage West Town Council, and a sailing club.
Opening the hearing yesterday, the EPA's Dr Jonathan Derham said that it would be a matter for the hearing whether EPA officials were requested to answer questions. Dr Derham stressed that neither he nor hearing vice-chairman, Michael Owens, had any direct part in the process which granted Indaver its outline waste licence.
However, on legal advice, he ruled any questions about his own dealings, if any, with Indaver or other waste management firms as irrelevant to the current inquiry.
An Taisce official, Sean O'Cronin, said that if questions could not be directly answered by EPA officials, objectors reserved their right to withdraw from the entire process.
Cork Harbour for a Safe Environment chairperson, Mary O'Leary, said that only senior EPA officials could explain why they opted to grant a waste licence for the bitterly-opposed incinerator.
Others said they were annoyed that the EPA would, more than likely, not be open to cross-examination on the incinerator project.
However, Indaver's managing director, John Ahern,
welcomed the oral hearing as a chance to highlight Ireland's need
for incineration and answer any questions that people might have.
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment