Friday 31 October 2014

Incinerator doubles in cost without one brick laid

Published 01/01/2013 | 05:00

IN 1999, a site at Poolbeg in Dublin city centre was identified as the best location for an incinerator to dispose of the capital's waste. The projected cost was to be €200m.

More than a decade later, not a brick has been laid while Dublin City Council has racked up bills totalling €81.7m and the final price has doubled to €400m.

Despite the massive spend of taxpayers' money, the project has been plagued by a lack of financial controls.

In a damning report, the Local Government Auditor said that management of the project had been "weak", and financial controls "not adequate".

Numerous contracts over-ran, resulting in a massive overspend.

They included €28.4m paid to consultants to represent the council – three times the €8.3m expected price.

Some €3m of this was spent on public relations – three times the original contract. Between May 2011 and February 2012, RPS – the public relations team – was paid a retainer of €14,000 a month, ex-VAT.

The Local Government Auditor has also sought a detailed report in relation to a €10m overspend by the council on a land-swap deal related to the project.

Some €22m was paid for new premises for Westway Terminals Hibernian Ltd, which was moving from its original site in Ringsend to facilitate the development of the incinerator.

The original contract was €11.9m.

'Obstacles'

At a council meeting earlier this month, Dublin City manager John Tierney apologised for the overspend but said the reason for the increased costs was the amount of "obstacles, complaints and queries" that had arisen in relation to the project.

The proposed incinerator has been beset with problems over the past 18 months, with the US energy firm Covanta still seeking project finance to build the 600,000-tonne waste-to-energy plant.

It has been given until April next year to decide if it's going ahead.

The council's audit committee will meet on January 24 to discuss the project.

Irish Independent

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