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Work on Poolbeg plant to finally get under way

THE €350m Poolbeg incinerator is finally being built despite long-standing attempts by former Environment Minister John Gormley to block the project.

Work to begin shortly will involve 500 construction jobs and the creation of up to 100 permanent jobs at the facility when it is up and running in three years' time.

The Green Party leader has just written to his constituents informing them that the project would not go ahead in Ringsend, Dublin, because of the levies he was introducing on incineration.

But this vote-catching exercise has backfired, as Mr Gormley's levies plan fell apart after the Greens walked out of Government.

The Irish Independent learnt yesterday that the incinerator is now "full steam ahead" because of the collapse of the levies proposal, according to sources close to the project.

Covanta is giving €20m to the local community for projects for putting up with the work.

The company is expected to issue a statement along with Dublin City Council in the near future announcing its intention to push ahead with construction of the facility.

The company is also involved in talks with waste contractors in the Dublin region regarding supplying waste to the plant, it was also learnt.

Sources said that the EU Waste Framework Directive, once enacted, would make it impossible for "the local politics-driven environmental legislation that Mr Gormley was promoting".

The directive defines the waste hierarchy and makes it impossible for anyone to give any kind of advantage to mechanical biological treatment, the former minister's preferred technology.


Dublin City Council said the project was the final piece of infrastructure needed for the Dublin region to achieve its aim of maximum recycling and minimum waste going to landfill.

It has full planning permission from An Bord Pleanala, as well as a waste licence from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mr Gormley claimed it was too big for the amount of waste expected to be generated in the Dublin region, but this is disputed by the council and by Covanta and in ESRI waste reports.

First proposed in 2001, the waste to energy plant, commonplace in most European capitals, is designed to encourage higher recycling rates and composting to dispose of rubbish.

Mr Gormley told the Irish Independent last night that he was determined to make the incinerator and waste an issue during the election.

"I hope that sense will prevail," he added.

A spokesman for Mr Gormley added that taxpayers and ratepayers would have to pay hundreds of millions of euro if the incinerator went ahead as it would not have enough waste to fulfil the contract.

"The punter will end up paying," he said.

Irish Independent