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Irish Times

Agency gives go-ahead for first toxic waste incinerator

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cleared the way for the construction of the State's first toxic waste incinerator by approving a controversial project in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, writes Arthur Beesley, Political Reporter.

The agency's decision to grant a waste management licence to Indaver Ireland means that the company will also be able to build a municipal incinerator near Duleek, Co Meath.

Both projects have encountered significant opposition from politicians and residents' groups, who have mounted major protest campaigns against the plans on health and environmental grounds.

The campaigns have received support from thousands of local people.

However, it is understood that the agency will say in a statement today that the incinerators will be subject to "stringent controls". In addition, the body will say that both plants have satisfied the requirements of the planning process.

The official scrutiny of Indaver's plans was the subject of controversy last summer when it emerged that the company's former project manager for the incineration projects, Ms Laura Burke, had been appointed as a director in the EPA.

The EPA stressed at the time that Ms Burke would not participate in the decision on Indaver's application for a waste management licence.

The Ringaskiddy plant, which will cost €75 million initially, will handle some 100,000 tonnes annually of hazardous and non-hazardous industrial and commercial waste. The plant, which could be operational in 2007, is likely to employ some 50 people.

The plant at Carranstown, near Duleek, will handle some 150,000 tonnes annually of non-hazardous waste. This plant will cost some €85 million to build.

Construction is expected to end by 2006 and the plant is likely to employ some 50 people. The Ringaskiddy plant was approved by An Bord Pleanála last January, despite the opposition of one of its own senior inspectors who recommended 14 reasons for refusal.

The EPA's approval for the plant is likely to create political difficulty for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr Martin, whose constituency includes Ringaskiddy. Mr Martin was accused by the Opposition of adopting a contradictory stance on the project earlier this year when he said he was always opposed to building an incinerator in Ringaskiddy but insisted he supported Government waste policy.

An Bord Pleanála decided by a majority of nine to one to approve the incinerator plan in the light of Government policy on waste management. In reaching its decision, the board cited the national waste management policy framework as set out in Government statements.

It also took account of the geographical spread of hazardous waste arising in the State, with a concentration of large-scale chemical and pharmaceutical industries in the Cork Harbour area. In addition, it said the Indaver site was adjacent to the N28 national primary route.


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