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Thursday 28 August 2014

Think-tank admits mistakes in waste policy study

Michael Brennan

Published 08/02/2010 | 05:00

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THE State's top economic think-tank has suffered a blow to its reputation after admitting that mistakes were made in its controversial study into waste policy.

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The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) had rubbished Environment Minister John Gormley's waste policies and backed the incineration strategy being pursued by Dublin City Council -- which paid for the study.

But the ESRI's Professor Richard Toal has accepted that statements in the report about carbon emissions from incinerators being included in the EU's emissions trading scheme were inaccurate and could impact on the report's conclusions.

"We're in the middle of redoing what needs to be redone," he said.

The report had found "no underlying rationale" for Mr Gormley's position on incineration, and said the international review of waste policy he commissioned was "severely flawed". The ESRI has now agreed to review the report this week and to issue an updated version as soon as it receives expert submissions.

Mr Gormley is under increasing political pressure arising from the continuing progress of the project to build a 600,000-tonne incinerator in Poolbeg, in the heart of his Dublin South East constituency.

A spokesman for Mr Gormley said he welcomed the fact that senior figures in the ESRI were acknowledging the report had errors.

"He would hope the body can make a comprehensive review of the report to correct the errors," he said.

Mr Gormley had accused the ESRI of departing from their normal standards and of being used by Dublin City Council for a public relations exercise. He also accused them of trying to undermine the international review into waste policy which he had commissioned.

The lead author of the ESRI waste policy report, associate professor Paul Gorecki, has rejected claims it was biased because it was commissioned by the city council at a cost of over €100,000.

Complaints

He said any move to change the conclusions of the report would depend on whether the issues identified were an "iceberg or an ice cube".

"We can't pre-judge anything but we don't see any reason to change the thrust of what we have said," he said.

Mr Gorecki said he would study complaints made about errors in the report but could not comment further on the specifics until he had done so. However, there was no question whatsoever of the waste policy report being withdrawn, he added.

Yesterday, Mr Gormley told RTE's 'Week in Politics' that he was willing to talk to Dublin City Council and the company building the incinerator, Covanta.

Irish Independent

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