Irish Times - 02-04-07
Indaver Ireland is likely to continue with its plans to develop incinerators in Cork and Meath if the Government increases the landfill levy by €5 a tonne a year, the company's managing director has said.
After weekend reports that the company was shelving plans to develop the incinerators, at Carranstown near Duleek, Co Meath, and at Ringaskiddy in Cork, John Ahern said current conditions in Ireland would make it impossible for incinerators to compete against landfill sites in the treatment of waste.
He said there was twice as much landfill capacity in Ireland as was needed and landfills were cheaper to run.
"When we entered the planning process in Ireland in 1999, it was written government policy and written regional waste management policy that landfills would be restricted," he said, "but this has not happened.
"An Bord Pleanála has been approving planning applications for landfill and the Environmental Protection Agency has been licensing them. The option of restricting capacity has gone."
He said the only option left to help meet EU targets to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill was to increase the landfill levy in Ireland, which is charged at €15 a tonne.
He said the company did not need "dramatic moves" from the Government in order to continue with its plans for Cork and Meath.
"Current legislation allows the Minister to increase the levy by €5 per tonne per annum until the job is done," he said. "All we have asked for is that."
He said the company, which is based in Belgium, would be taking its Irish planning and licensing team to the UK to develop infrastructure there, attracted by the promise of an increased landfill levy of €72 a tonne by 2010.
In a brief statement yesterday, Minister for the Environment Dick Roche said Government policy on landfill and waste management would not be determined by the requirements of one particular company.
"The Government has published a consultation paper on the regulation of the industry. It will make its decision based on the public good."
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment said Indaver Ireland was making a cynical effort to put pressure on the Government to subsidise its "lost cause".
"In real terms, nothing has changed. The EPA operating licence is still in place, as is the planning permission which attaches to the site, so it could be sold on," she said.
High Court challenges to the licence and planning permission would continue, she added.
"Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that the next government does not support incineration," she said.
Cork Labour councillor Ciarán Lynch said he feared Indaver "could be trying to pull a Bupa" by threatening to abandon the market in an attempt to get concessions from the Government.
© 2007 The Irish Times
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment