Gormley incinerator claims are rubbished by leading think-tank
Environment Minister John Gormley's claim there won't be sufficient rubbish to feed the Poolbeg incinerator has been contradicted by a leading economic think-tank.
The minister is opposing the facility on the grounds that it is too big and the Dublin councils will not be able to provide at least 320,000 tonnes annually.
But new reports on waste projections up to 2020 and a review of amounts going to landfill over the past few years appear to rubbish his claims.
The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI ) predicts that household waste is going to rise over the next decade.
The ESRI's Energy and the Environment 2010 report says that the Poolbeg incinerator and the one under construction at Carranstown in Co Meath are both needed.
If the two incinerators are put in service, Ireland should be capable of meeting EU landfill targets, the think-tank says.
Last year alone, as much as 600,000 tonnes of waste from the Dublin region was buried in landfills. These are now full and the waste is to be brought to dumps in other counties.
Private waste collectors claim they will not send their waste to an incinerator while landfill costs are low. But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mounted an investigation into fees being charged by landfill operators.
The minister is proposing slapping punitive charges on incineration, a deterrent to private operators.
An official progress report from the four local authorities involved in the incinerator contract, predicts:
- Household waste will rise from 511,586 tonnes in 2010 to 605, 519 tonnes in 2020.
- Commercial waste will increase from 659,652 tonnes this year to 981,605 tonnes in 2020.
This report has been sent to the EPA and forms the basis of their annual waste audit. Even allowing for the 59pc recycling target being met in coming years, this leaves sufficient waste available for the Poolbeg incinerator.
A second unpublished report, also obtained by the Irish Independent, was carried out by waste consultants Fehily Timoney on behalf of Covanta, the US company behind the waste-to- energy plant.
This report predicts there will be between at least 600,000 tonnes of waste left over for incineration in the Dublin region when the target of 59pc recycling is reached by 2020.
Seamus Lyons, Dublin city council assistant city manager said yesterday: "Dublin city council and Covanta are confident that there is enough residual waste in the region after recycling, to fill the waste to energy plant at Poolbeg."
The councils believe higher charges for landfills and low fees for incineration will make Poolbeg a success.
Scott Whitney, Covanta's European president said yesterday: "One of the key claims made by opponents of the Poolbeg project is that, at 600,000 tonnes, the plant is over-sized for the Dublin region's residual waste market.
"The truth is that there is, and under all reasonably predictable scenarios will continue to be, plenty of waste left over after recycling to justify the Poolbeg facility at its proposed size," he added.
Mr Gormley again insisted yesterday that the Poolbeg incinerator was too big for Dublin, saying that the taxpayer would be left with a massive bill if Dublin City Council did not provide enough waste to feed the plant.
He added that a report commissioned by him into the possible financial implications for the State if waste targets were not met would be published shortly.
He pointed out that private waste collectors won a High Court victory allowing them to determine where their waste goes.