Monday 23 September 2019

Locals to take legal action as incinerator given the green light

Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Ralph Riegel

Furious Cork Harbour residents have vowed to take legal action to block An Bord Pleanála's decision to grant planning permission to a controversial €160m waste incinerator project first proposed 18 years ago.

An Bord Pleanála granted planning to Indaver for the 240,000-tonne Ringaskiddy incinerator subject to a number of conditions.

It approved the eight-storey plant under the Planning Strategic Infrastructure Act.

However, this ran contrary to the recommendation of one of its own inspectors who, after a lengthy 2016 hearing in Cork, came out against the proposal.

Residents expressed shock at the ruling which came despite senior local politicians, including Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil frontbench spokesman Michael McGrath, opposing the incinerator.

Fears were also raised that the transformation of Haulbowline Island into a maritime centre and emergence of Spike Island as a major tourist attraction could be jeopardised.

Concerns have also been expressed over the impact on Ireland's award-winning National Maritime College, which is located directly across the road from the proposed site.

The plant was sanctioned after three separate planning applications.

Under the approval, the proposed plant now cannot handle more than 24,000 tonnes of toxic waste a year. It will also handle municipal waste.

Indaver managing director John Ahern said they were "very pleased" by the decision.

Mr Ahern said that Ireland exported 300,000 tonnes of waste for treatment - something that cannot continue.

"As we have said from the outset, we believe that our plans are fully in line with national, regional and local planning regulations, which was acknowledged by Cork County Council and has been reinforced by An Bord Pleanála's decision to grant permission," he said.

However, Cork Harbour residents vowed that the incinerator would be fought all the way to the European Court if necessary.

Cork Harbour For A Safe Environment (CHASE) said it was "shocked and appalled" by the decision which came after two years of planning delays with a decision postponed almost a dozen times.

CHASE official Mary O'Leary said: "This is the wrong project, in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Opponents have just eight weeks to confirm an appeal.

Mr Coveney admitted that he felt "deep disappointment and frustration" at the decision.

Irish Independent

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