Saturday 1 November 2014

Poolbeg plant plan 'should not have been pursued'

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 08/04/2014 | 02:30

An artist’s impression of the proposed Poolbeg Incinerator
An artist’s impression of the proposed Poolbeg Incinerator

A highly critical report into the stalled Poolbeg incinerator has claimed that there is no proper evidence that the disastrous project should have been pursued in the first place.

Experts have revealed that a business case for the waste facility does not exist, despite the fact that over €108m worth of taxpayers' money could be squandered.

The damning report, obtained by the Irish Independent, states that Dublin City Council failed to put in place a proper budget for the final stages of the project, which now faces being scrapped entirely.

The report is also critical of public representatives whom it claims displayed a lack of proper oversight of developments relating to the Dublin 4 facility.

The findings are sure to heap further pressure on some of the city officials involved in the project, including former Dublin City Manager John Tierney. Mr Tierney has been asked to answer questions about Poolbeg at the Oireachtas Environment Committee, while the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) also wants to grill him.

However, the Irish Water chief has said he will not commit to appearing in front of an Oireachtas committee until the conclusion of two EU investigations into a series of issues relating to Poolbeg .

While Mr Tierney is not named in the latest report, the authors state that the city manager was identified as being "ultimately responsible for the overall direction and management of the project, with day-to-day activities delegated to the assistant city manager."

Mr Tierney oversaw the Poolbeg project for seven years during his tenure as manager of Ireland's largest local authority.

The most alarming element of the report is the claim that there is no evidence or business case that underpins the need for the energy project to have proceeded in the the first place.

While the authors accept the need for landfill reduction, they point to the lack of a business case for the incinerator.

DETAILS

"The continuing need for reduction in landfill usage is not disputed. However, our review did not provide evidence that the rationale for pursuing the . . . project as the means of meeting this need had been documented in detail as part of a formalised business case," according to the report.

If a decision is taken to proceed with the project, the overall cost could rise to €600m.

An incinerator to deal with waste in the greater Dublin area was given the go-ahead in November 1997. But a series of objections and an EU-led investigation into the awarding of contracts means that no physical work has yet been done on the site.

Irish Independent

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