Sunday 18 March 2018

Gormley's waste plan rubbished

ESRI says minister's report on incinerator 'not credible'

Paul Melia

ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley's plan to deal with Ireland's growing waste crisis is today rubbished in a report by the State's leading economic think-tank.

Mr Gormley is vehemently opposed to the building of an incinerator in his own southside Dublin constituency. But the expert report says there is no "coherent or compelling reason" not to use incineration, and that it is "extremely unlikely" that ambitious recycling targets will be met.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) accused Mr Gormley's department of "distorting" the outcome of a year-long study on waste policy by stating that incineration should be discouraged and that alternative waste treatments used instead.


The ESRI report -- 'An Economic Approach to Municipal Waste Management Policy in Ireland' -- also says it is "extremely unlikely" that Ireland will meet ambitious targets to recycle 70pc of all household waste.

The report comes as Ireland faces the prospect of multi-million euro EU fines from July because too much waste is being sent to dumps rather than being recycled.

More than 1.1 million tonnes of waste will be sent to landfill this year -- far above the legally binding targets contained in the EU's Landfill Directive.

The report also says that an International Review of Waste Policy commissioned by the Green Party leader "does not provide" a roadmap on how Ireland's waste can be tackled. Its recommendations are "not credible", it says.

Among the main findings from the ESRI are:

  • There is more than enough waste generated in Dublin to fuel the controversial Poolbeg incinerator, despite claims by the Environment Minister that volumes of waste are falling.
  • The amount of household waste generated will increase by 4pc a year from 2011 when the economy returns to growth. Mr Gormley refutes this.
  • Mr Gormley wants to limit the amount of waste to be incinerated. The ESRI says it is "not clear" why a cap should be imposed.

The minister's plans to introduce a cap on incineration to 25pc of the total generated was likely to result in fines, the think-tank said.

"The EU Landfill Directive targets are binding, in the sense that that they are set by the EU and that there are fines for non-compliance," it says.

Residents opposed to the plant yesterday questioned the independence of the ESRI study, saying it was not objective.

The ESRI rejected claims that the study is biased because it was commissioned by Dublin City Council, which is developing the controversial Poolbeg incinerator.

However, the Department of the Environment said the analysis contained a "number of errors", including an assumption that waste generation would increase, and that recycling rates would level off.

It also questioned the motives of Dublin City Council in commissioning the research, saying it would not be dictated to by a local authority.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News