Monday 19 February 2018

Controversial Poolbeg incinerator to be given the green light

Poolbeg incinerator
Poolbeg incinerator

Paul Melia, Environment Correspondent

A €500m incinerator capable of treating more than half a million tonnes of refuse a year is expected to be given the green light.

Management at Dublin City Council are expected to approve construction of the controversial Poolbeg waste-to-energy plant before the end of the month, has learned.

The move comes despite widespread opposition from local residents and a vote by Dublin City councillors earlier this year to abandon the project.

However, elected members have no role in the decision and will be briefed on management’s plans on Monday.

Some €105m has been spent by the four Dublin local authorities to date, which will be lost unless the facility goes ahead.

Local politicians will also be told that the council could earn a portion of the fees paid to process waste, which will be between €30m and €155m over the 45-year lifespan of the plant.

While a final decision has not been made, it is understood that construction work could begin before the end of the year.

An American company, Covanta, will design, build, finance and operate the plant and is understood to have the financial backing in place.

The move to go ahead comes after a Government agency said the €500m project represents good value for money.

In addition, the European Commission has also rejected complaints that competition law and procurement rules were broken when Dublin City Council entered an agreement with a private sector partner to build the facility.

The 550,000-tonne capacity plant has been mired in controversy since first proposed in 1996, almost 20 years ago.

Councillors will be told that even if ambitious national and EU recycling targets are met and the amount of waste generated falls below projected levels, the finances still stack up.

Failure to go ahead could leave the local authorities open to compensation claims from Covanta.

In additional to waste being treated, power for 80,000 homes and heating for another 50,000 will be generated by the plant.

Incineration is considered a more environmentally-friendly way of disposing of waste than landfill.

In addition, some waste is being shipped abroad for treatment because it is cheaper and there is a lack of suitable facilities here.

“If this doesn’t go ahead, there’s still a requirement for waste treatment,” a source said.

“This is an appropriate site and an appropriate project. This should go ahead.”

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