Mayor urges council talks over smaller incinerator
THE contract to build the controversial €350m Poolbeg incinerator was on track last night despite the fact that the original agreement expired yesterday.
There were no indications that either Dublin City Council or Covanta -- the company involved -- are about to walk away from the project, which has already cost the local authority €120m.
But last night Dublin Lord Mayor Gerry Breen said he would like to see all four Dublin local authorities sit down with Covanta to discuss the possibility of building a smaller incinerator than the one envisaged in the original plan for the Poolbeg site.
Covanta last night declined to comment but other sources said there were no indications that either side wanted to walk away from the project.
Environment Minister John Gormley remains firmly opposed to the plant and maintains it is inconsistent with government waste policy, which is moving away from incineration.
As reported in the Irish Independent on Saturday, the incinerator contract was signed on September 4, 2007, specifying that certain conditions must be met within a 36-month period, which expired yesterday.
Councillors will be briefed on the project by the city manager at a meeting of Dublin City Council tonight.
Mr Breen described the agreement as a "normal commercial contract" and said that under lord mayor's business, he would allow the city manager to make a statement about the project, probably at the start of tonight's meeting.
But he said that if either side were to pull out, penalties would be incurred. "We would face significant damages and still have problems of general waste to deal with."
The project is being built as a Public Private Partnership between Dublin City Council and Dublin Waste to Energy, which is majority owned by Covanta.
Under the current plans, it would be able to process up to 600,000 tonnes of waste per year, with the four Dublin local authorities providing 320,000 tonnes of that.
Dublin City Council said in a statement at the weekend that it had been and remained "in a contractual position" for the provision of a waste-to-energy facility at Poolbeg to deal with Dublin's residual waste.
"This project is essential to dealing with Dublin's waste for years to come; it provides good value for money for the taxpayer, as certified by the National Development Finance Agency."
It said it would also contribute to reducing our carbon footprint and would provide for electricity generation and district heating for a large area of the city.
However, the council also said that a recent report that the council could walk away from the project at no cost was "factually incorrect".
The four Dublin local authorities had spent "substantial" sums to date -- a reported €120m -- on land acquisition, statutory process and client representative costs.
"This does not take into account any compensation that might be payable to the Public Private Partnership company should the contract be terminated," the council said.