Sunday 15 December 2019

Independent review ordered into Poolbeg incinerator

An independent review has been ordered into the controversial waste incinerator in south Dublin, the Government confirmed today.

Barrister and accountant John Hennessey, Senior Counsel, has been appointed to head an inquiry into the financial risks facing backers of the Poolbeg rubbish burner.

John Gormley, Environment Minister, said the report will bring clarity to the highly contentious project.

"There have been a wide range of claims regarding this project, its financial viability, and the financial consequences of either proceeding with or abandoning it," the minister said.

"I believe a proper and full independent examination by a qualified expert is required to bring clarity to these issues."

The Green Party leader, whose constituency the incinerator is in, is opposed to the Poolbeg project as it stands and fought the last election on those grounds.

The incinerator is a joint venture between Dublin City Council and US company Covanta, with the authority committed to sending 320,000 tonnes of waste to the burner every year. It could provide power for 50,000 homes.

Mr Hennessy has been asked to assess financial risks if the council and Dublin's three other local authorities cannot meet required volumes in the "put-or-pay" clause of the contract.

The report will audit costs if household waste levels do not change; if they fall by about one per cent during the contract; and if waste volumes increase at levels projected by the Environmental Protection Agency.

It will detail costs if recycling rates remain static; if recycling increases by one, two or three per cent a year during the contract; and the incinerator loses market share.

Mr Gormley also said it will identify, explain and measure the financial risks and consequences for Dublin City Council if the incinerator project is revised or abandoned.

The report is expected to be ready in six weeks.

The inquiry was ordered after experts at the Economic and Social Research Institute stood over a heavily criticised report into waste management and the incinerator.

Its key finding was that there will be enough rubbish in Dublin to make the planned Poolbeg burner viable.

Mr Gormley and the Irish Waste Management Association (IWMA) claimed the report was flawed.

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