Sunday 17 December 2017

Sparks fly over 'rubbish' waste strategy

Paul Melia

A WAR of words is continuing between a leading economic think-tank and the Government over a controversial report which rubbished Environment Minister John Gormley's waste policies.

And yesterday experts from both sides entered the debate, accusing each other of producing reports which either lacked clarity or contained errors.

First out of the block was Dr Dominic Hogg from consultancy firm Eunomia, who was commissioned by Mr Gormley to review best international waste practice and recommend changes to national policy.

He accused the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) of "manufacturing a dispute from its own mistakes" after it described the Government's waste policies as having "no underlying rationale".


A highly-critical report from the ESRI published on Wednesday -- and commissioned by Dublin City Council which is building a 600,000-tonne incinerator at Poolbeg in Dublin -- said that Mr Gormley's plans to limit the amount of waste that could be incinerated were likely to impose "needless costs" on the economy.

It also claimed that ambitious recycling targets were "unlikely" to be met.

But Dr Hogg said that a number of "major errors" had been made by the ESRI which would have a "significant bearing" upon its conclusions.

Among them, he claimed, was a mistaken assumption that operators of incinerators could buy a "licence" to pollute and that the ESRI had ignored the costs of air pollution caused by burning waste.


But the lead author of the ESRI report, associate professor Paul Gorecki, said he stood over the report. He rejected claims it was biased because it was commissioned by the city council. The cost of the report was €103,000 plus VAT.

However, it was important to give Dr Hogg's comments "due weight", he said, and he would respond to criticisms.

He added that there had to be a "valid" and "compelling" reason" to switch to using different forms of waste technology other than incineration, which had not been demonstrated in the international review.

Mr Gormley wants a cap on incineration and smaller waste facilities to be used to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. If this is not achieved by 2016, the EU will impose fines.

Irish Independent

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