Friday 28 April 2017

US waste firm urges decision on incinerator

Ailish O'Hora Public Affairs Correspondent

The giant US waste company behind the controversial €350m Poolbeg incinerator last night heaped pressure on the Government to make a final decision on the future of the plant.

Covanta Energy, which is building the incinerator with public partner Dublin City Council, described it as the "best option" for the capital's waste.

The construction of the plant has been delayed by Environment Minister John Gormley, who has always opposed it.

Poolbeg is located in Mr Gormley's constituency and he claims the plant, with the capacity to process 600,000 tonnes of waste a year, is too big for current waste needs.

But last night Covanta, which has already called for a meeting with Taoiseach Brian Cowen to discuss the delays, said it was time for the Government to make up its mind.

"It is a matter for the Irish Government, and the country's taxpayers, to decide if they want to base their waste management policy on a tried and tested approach such as energy-from-waste," the company said in a statement.

It described alternatives proposed by Mr Gormley, such as the waste-sorting system called mechanical biological treatment (MBT), as "a hastily concocted alternative that has been previously proven in numerous other locations to be exorbitantly expensive and unsustainable".

The comments from Covanta came after it emerged that the original contract between the two partners to build the plant expired at the weekend.

That contract has since been extended until May 2011. Covanta added last night that research it had commissioned showed the plant was "rightly-sized".

According to the research, from environment consultants Fehily Timoney and Company, while recycling will increase from current levels of 45pc to 59pc in 2030, the amount of residual waste after this will reach more than 700,000 tonnes in the same period.

Shoreline

It is understood that Covanta and Dublin City Council are also discussing the best way to get around delays to the construction of the plant.

However, Mr Gormley has refused to give the partners a foreshore licence -- which is necessary for it to go ahead.

In a bid to overcome this hurdle, the council is planning to buy 65 plots of land along the shoreline near the site through a compulsory purchase order.

A spokesman for Mr Gormley last night accused Covanta of "recycling" old figures to prove that the plant was not too big.

"It is too big," he said. "Landfill waste in the Dublin region has fallen by over 50pc since 2007."

Irish Independent

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