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Sunday 19 November 2017

'Thousands of jobs at stake' as €150m incinerator turned down

Campaigners hail ruling as 'final nail in the coffin' of controversial project

Sarah Jones protesting in 2004 at the proposed incinerator site at Ringaskiddy, Cork.
Sarah Jones protesting in 2004 at the proposed incinerator site at Ringaskiddy, Cork.

Ralph Riegel and Paul Melia

THE pharmaceutical industry yesterday says thousands of jobs are at stake after planning permission for a €150m hazardous waste incinerator was turned down.

An Bord Pleanala yesterday ruled that the 100,000-tonne waste-to-energy plant in Cork will not go ahead because of flooding risks, and measures to protect the coastline were "inadequate".

Indaver Ireland first applied to build an incinerator at the site over a decade ago.

Ireland exports 150,000 tonnes of waste a year for treatment, at huge cost to companies.

PharmaChemical Ireland, which represents the pharmaceuticals and chemicals sector in Ireland, said the industry had "made it clear" for some time that waste could not continue to be shipped abroad for treatment.

"The pharmaceuticals and chemicals sector accounts for over 50,000 jobs in this country, directly and indirectly," director Matt Moran said.

"We have always viewed the lack of adequate waste disposal facilities as being a threat to the long-term sustainability of the sector.

"It is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to attract and retain investment in this country.

"This decision will not help the industry in this difficult and important task."

The incinerator was proposed by Indaver Ireland for a site near Ringaskiddy in Cork harbour, but rejected following a decade-long planning and appeals process.

The decision means that Ireland will have to continue to export hazardous waste for treatment and disposal abroad, despite EU guidelines stating that the waste should be treated here.

Environmental campaigners last night hailed the planning ruling as "the final nail in the coffin" of the controversial project, which was first outlined in 2000.

They have also claimed that it represents a decisive blow to the campaign to introduce incineration to Ireland as a waste-disposal option.

Cork Harbour for A Safe Environment (CHASE) chairperson Mary O'Leary said the decision represented a dream come true for the entire community and proof that "people power" works. "We are totally stunned and obviously delighted with this decision," she said.

Indaver now also face having to pay almost €500,000 in costs associated with the planning hearing.

An Bord Pleanala refused permission on four grounds -- the plant was contrary to the Cork County waste plan; the 30-acre site was too small for the plant; measures to reduce the risk of flooding were inadequate; and plans to protect the coast from erosion were inadequate.

Last night, Indaver said it was committed to the project and that the issues could be resolved.

"We are disappointed but not discouraged by this decision. We believe the reasons given by the board for its decision can be addressed. It has not altered our view that the Cork region needs a waste facility," managing director John Ahern said.

"It is no longer responsible, credible or efficient to simply export or landfill our waste."

Up to 320 jobs would have been created during the construction phase, with 60 full-time positions when the plant was operational.

The decision can be appealed by Indaver to the High Court, but only on a point of law.

Irish Independent

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