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Irish Times - 04-09-07
Gormley wants to extend waste levy to incinerators
by Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

The economic viability of the State's planned incinerators has been put in doubt following Minister for the Environment John Gormley's statement that he favours a levy on all waste sent for incineration.

Incinerator developers have long argued that the current €15 per tonne levy imposed on waste sent to landfill should be significantly increased, which would lead to an increase in the waste sent to them for burning. The levy is paid by waste disposal firms, and was introduced "to support waste minimisation and recycling initiatives".

Yesterday, however, Mr Gormley made clear that he favours imposing a levy on waste sent to incinerators, though this would require Cabinet-backed legislation before it could be introduced.

Mr Gormley said while he did not want to "pre-empt" a review of waste strategy, "in the context of this review I will also consider increasing the landfill levy from its current low rate of €15".

He added: "As part of this I will also examine whether it may be necessary to extend the levy to include municipal incinerators. I do not see why incineration should not be subject to the same financial regime as landfills."

An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission for two incinerators in Co Meath and in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, while a decision on one in Poolbeg in Dublin is outstanding.

A final decision on an incineration levy will not go before the Cabinet for some time as the Minister wants to carry out a first major review of waste strategy since 1998.

Last night Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who has strongly supported incineration up to now, said a commission would report "within a year" on "new ways and new technologies, both inventions and international progress in these areas".

"We have made extraordinary strides in moving away from landfill in recent years. We have gone from 0 per cent to 35 per cent. We have closed many landfills, and we want to close more."

Mr Gormley has come under attack in his Dublin South East constituency where there is strong opposition to plans to build an incinerator backed by Dublin City Council in Poolbeg.

Labour TD Eamon Gilmore said it appeared that the public would have to pay higher waste charges arising from Mr Gormley's approach, which, he said, lacked clarity.

John Ahern, managing director of Indaver Ireland, a company involved in incineration, said he did not believe attempts to impose an incineration levy would prove to be legal.

© 2007 The Irish Times


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