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Cost of cancelling incinerator plans could be crippling

JOHN Gormley's mission to block the Poolbeg incinerator could end up costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of euro, it has emerged.

The Environment Minister, whose constituency is the proposed location for the €350m plant, has released a draft plan to revise national waste policy.

If implemented, the plan will make the incinerator "unviable", Mr Gormley said.


But it is feared taxpayers will foot the bill if Mr Gormley succeeds in preventing the so-called waste-to-energy facility going ahead.

Dublin City Council warned of "serious financial repercussions" for the country if the minister presses on with the proposed major changes to waste policy.

Mr Gormley wants to restrict the amount of waste going to the incinerator and impose levies on waste contractors sending material to the facility.

But the council insisted it has a contract for the construction of the plant.

In a statement, the local authority said: "This contract was entered into in line with current government waste policy and the current regional waste management plan."

"Any proposal which might alter that policy at this stage could have serious repercussions for the Dublin region, and thereby the State."

The council received full planning permission from An Bord Pleanala, as well as a waste licence from the Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition, it has permission from the Commission for Energy Regulation to generate energy.

Covanta, the US company behind the Dublin Waste to Energy Ltd consortium hired to construct the incinerator, accused Mr Gormley of a conflict of interest in adjudicating on a foreshore licence for the plant.

"The minister is adjudicating on a project that he has said he is opposed to. He should remove himself from the adjudication process. There is a prima facie conflict of interest. This application has been in with him for the past two years," the company said.

However, Mr Gormley's spokesman rejected this, saying responsibility for these licences was only transferred to the department in January.

The minister said he is not "deviating one iota" from his opinion that a 600,000-tonne capacity incinerator was incompatible with best international practice.

The Draft National Waste Policy has been released for public consultation.

The policy's aim is to promote a move away from landfill and "mass-burn incineration" towards recycling and mechanical biological treatment.


It outlines the Government-sanctioned intention to introduce a levy on incineration.

However, the policy goes further by proposing fines for local authorities who do not prevent waste from going to landfill or incinerator sites.

Mr Gormley announced his intention to change national waste policy in 2007 -- on the day An Bord Pleanala granted permission to Dublin City Council for the incinerator at Poolbeg.