Wednesday 20 March 2019

Questions over €10m spend at Poolbeg Incinerator

Dublin City Chief Executive Owen Keegan
Dublin City Chief Executive Owen Keegan

Paul Melia and Niall O'Connor

Government officials who examined the significant costs associated with the controversial Poolbeg Incinerator say they are unable to account for a multi-million euro overspend.

Dublin City Council spent €22m on relocating an existing business in order to facilitate the construction of the incinerator - despite budgeting just €12m for the project.

In a significant finding, the Local Government Auditor said two external reports commissioned by Dublin City Council fail to adequately explain the reasons for the budget overrun.

The spending watchdog has raised serious concerns as to why the cost of moving a company and building it a new premises to allow construction of the incinerator ended up spiralling out of control.

And in official audit documents, seen by the Irish Independent, Dublin City Chief Executive Owen Keegan says he is unable to fully justify the extra money spent due to an absence of both key project files and particular personnel associated with the project.

'Unexplained'

Fianna Fail councillor and the party's legal advisor, Jim O'Callaghan, has called for the "unexplained" €10m to be referred to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Cumulative costs on the Poolbeg project to date amount to €97.4m, but €31m of this was incurred by Dublin City Council after it agreed to move Westway Terminals Hibernian Ltd from Shellybanks Road, earmarked for the waste-to- energy plant.

The deal included a requirement to construct a new premises. The original tender price in November 2003 was €11.913m, but the final bill amounted to €22.091m in November 2008 - €10m more than budgeted.

the local government auditor says questions remain over the overspend.

"A total of €31m was spent on relocating an existing business to facilitate this project. At previous audits I raised the absence of a detailed report explaining the difference in the actual cost of construction works (€22m) compared to the original tender amount (€12m)."

Irish Independent

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