Wednesday 13 December 2017

Original contract for disputed incinerator will be extended

Ailish O'Hora and Louise Hogan

Negotiations to extend the contract to build the controversial €350m Poolbeg incinerator were ongoing last night.

Talks were under way ahead of the expiry of the original agreement, the Irish Independent has learned.

The original contract between Dublin City Council and Covanta Energy to build the incinerator ends tomorrow but its expiration was described by sources as "a technicality".

"Both parties have invested considerably in the proposed facility to date and remained committed to bringing it to fruition," said one source.

Earlier this week it emerged a 'get-out clause' existed. While these clauses are commonplace in business, it was unclear until now whether the Poolbeg project included such a stipulation.

The contract was signed on September 4, 2007, specifying that certain conditions must be met within a 36-month time period, which expires tomorrow. In a statement, Dublin City Council said it "remains in a contractual position for the provision of a waste-to-energy facility at Poolbeg".

It also denied it could walk away from the contract at "no cost" because at least €60m has already been spent by the council on the plant with a further €60m committed. In addition, the council added that breaking the contract could incur financial penalties.

The council has been accused of attempting to mislead the public about the details of the contract. Private waste operators, represented by the Irish Waste Management Agency, who are also opposed to the site, said the council must reveal why it was never disclosed that a get-out clause existed.

The latest twist in the Poolbeg saga is no surprise as the 6,000,000-tonne capacity incinerator has been mired in controversy. Environment Minister John Gormley has always been opposed to the plant -- which is in his constituency. A spokesperson for Mr Gormley said last night: "It will cost taxpayers in higher waste charges and is inconsistent with government waste policy, which is moving away from incineration."

When up and running, the plant would use part of the city's municipal waste to fuel the treatment facility, which would generate electricity and provide water-based heating for more than 50,000 households.

Irish Independent

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