Saturday 25 October 2014

Controversial Poolbeg Incinerator project looks set to go ahead

European Commission Investigation found in favour of the four local authorities

Niall O’Connor and Paul Melia

Published 07/05/2014 | 11:57

An artist’s impression of the proposed Poolbeg Incinerator
An artist’s impression of the proposed Poolbeg Incinerator
A woman walks her dogs along Sandymount beach yesterday
ref Poolbeg incinerator
Pic Steve Humphreys
17th August 2010.
A woman walks her dogs along Sandymount beach. Photo: Steve Humphreys

THE controversial Poolbeg Incinerator project looks set to go ahead after a European Commission Investigation found in favour of the four Dublin local authorities.

The Commission has completed a lengthy probe into the contract agreed with waste company Covanta to construct the facility in Dublin 4.

European officials spent several months examining the details of the contract after receiving a compliant from a member of the public.

The complaint alleged that the public-private partnership contract with Covanta breached EU regulations on state aid and procurement.

However in a statement today, the Commission ruled in favour of the four Dublin local authorities and has now given the green light for the project to proceed.

“The European Commission has found that a series of measures by the Dublin local authorities to participate in the Waste-to-Energy project in Poolbeg, Dublin, are in line with the EU state aid rules,” the Commission said.

Although this is good news for Dublin City Council, tens of millions of euro have already been spent on the project despite the fact that a single brick has not been laid.

The project has been a political hot potato. The refusal of former Environment Minister John Gormley to approve a foreshore licence, which was essential for the project, meant the agreement between the local authorities and Covanta had to be renegotiated. The delay also meant Covanta was no longer obliged to fund the facility from its own finances.

City manager Owen Keegan said in January that he would compile a report for councillors setting out arguments for and against the project going ahead once the investigation has concluded.

The Oireachtas Environment Committee recently invited former City Manager John Tierney to appear to discuss the huge spend on Poolbeg.

However, the Irish Water chief said that he would not agree to the invite until the conclusion of the EU probe.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman John McGuinness also said he would like his committee to question Mr Tierney over the spend.

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