Irish Times - 06-04-05
The Minister for the Environment yesterday criticised politicians who try to make political gain by opposing incineration.
Dick Roche made his comments as he reiterated the Government's commitment to incineration, stressing that it had to be part of a strategy to deal with waste disposal in Ireland.
Mr Roche said that, while it was necessary to have an open debate about incineration, if it was introduced using the latest technology and proper monitoring many people would no longer fear it.
He said there were people in political life who took a view that there was a short-term political gain to be made on virtually every issue, including incineration.
"There are people and parties who have said previously that incineration had to be part and parcel of a balanced waste project, but went against it because it was politically expedient to do so. That's not proper."
Mr Roche refused to be drawn on Indaver Ireland's proposals for incinerators at Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, and Duleek, Co Meath, because both are being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency after oral hearings. However, he said incineration could not be ignored.
"The people who are opposed to landfill, I fully understand their position. The people who are opposed to incineration, I fully understand their position. But the reality is that we've a major problem even if we meet the very ambitious targets set in the Race Against Waste.
"It is simply not practical to suggest that all of that waste can be consigned to holes in the ground. The suggestion that putting waste into ground, into a landfill site, even into a very good landfill site and a very properly designed site, is somehow or other a panacea for all problems. It's not a suggestion that any other country in the OECD accepts as a solution," the Minister told The Irish Times.
He cited the example of the Netherlands, which has reached a point through a combination of reduction, recycling and incineration where it is no longer sending waste to landfill sites.
"If you go to Denmark you actually have incineration, and I've seen them - they're clean, they work - and our system doesn't work, and what we're getting at the moment is people digging holes in the ground and causing problems.
"There has to be an honest debate on this particular issue. Not in my back garden is not a solution to the nation's waste problems. Every part of the country is somebody's back yard, so there has to be a proper debate."
Asked about his own reported comments that he would be opposed to an incinerator in his constituency of Wicklow, Mr Roche said: "I never said that I wouldn't like an incinerator in Co Wicklow.
"I said I wouldn't go out and ask for one for Co Wicklow, and the final part of that sentence was this - one of the things we have to do in this country is be honest about this debate."
© The Irish Times
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