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Irish Times - February 14, 2005

Hearing into licence for incinerator begins

A much-awaited oral hearing into the granting of a waste-management licence for Ireland's first toxic-waste incinerator gets under way in Cork today. Both the developer, Indaver Ireland, and opponents of the facility will make submissions to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA's decision last October to grant a draft waste management licence to Indaver for the €93 million facility at Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour was greeted with anger by an environmental campaign group, Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (CHASE).

Both CHASE and Indaver Ireland appealed the draft licence, the latter because it says the terms of the draft licence are too restrictive and would force the Belgian-owned company to reject waste that it would be able to burn at the planned facility.

The draft waste-management licence issued to Indaver is for two incinerators at Ringaskiddy - each with the capacity to burn 100,000 tonnes of waste per annum along with waste transfer station catering for a further 15,000 tonnes.

The first incinerator, for which Indaver has obtained planning permission, would deal with hazardous waste, while the company has still to apply for planning permission for the second incinerator, which would deal with non-hazardous waste and cost a further €30 million.

In announcing its proposed decision to grant a licence, i.e. in its draft waste-management licence, the EPA pointed out that there were stringent conditions attached that met the highest standards set by the EU in its waste-incineration directive.

The EPA oral hearing is the latest instalment in a long running dispute which began in April 2001 when Indaver Ireland announced details of its incinerator proposal for the 12 hectare site in Ringaskiddy that it purchased from Irish Ispat, which owned the nearby Haulbowline steel mill.

Indaver says Cork was chosen because the county produces 60 per cent of Ireland's toxic waste. Ringaskiddy was identified as the site for the incinerator because it's where most of the pharmaceutical and chemical companies are based while it also has good port, power and roads infrastructure.

Ringaskiddy over the last 40 years has developed into a major industrial zone.

After Indaver's announcement of its plan, the company applied for planning permission to Cork County Council in November 2001 and submitted a detailed proposal.

In May 2003, the Cork County manager, Mr Maurice Moloney, proposed planning permission be granted.

But despite Mr Moloney's recommendation to allow a contravention of the Cork County development plan to permit the incinerator, county councillors voted by 30 votes to 13, with two abstentions, not to grant planning permission to Indaver.

Indaver duly appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanála, which held an oral hearing into the proposal. Cork South Central TD and now Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Mr Batt O'Keeffe, was among those who testified in opposition to the incinerator.

Although the Bord Pleanála inspector Mr Phillip Jones ruled environmental and health issues out of order during the oral planning hearing in October 2003, he nonetheless strongly recommended against granting planning permission for the facility on 14 separate grounds.

Opponents of the facility were confident of success following on Mr Jones's recommendations, but they were shocked when An Bord Pleanála ignored their own inspector's advice and granted planning permission to Indaver Ireland in January 2004.

Since then, Ringaskiddy and District Residents' Association has gone to the High Court to challenge the planning permission. Last month, Mr Justice Quirke granted them leave to seek a judicial review of the Bord Pleanála decision.


Barry Roche
© The Irish Times

     

Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishop's Road, Cobh, Co. Cork
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