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Council faces D-day in row over Poolbeg

THE contract for the Poolbeg incinerator is due to expire this Sunday.

Dublin City Council will have to decide in the coming hours whether it wants to extend, renegotiate or terminate the agreement to build the controversial incinerator.

It emerged today that the contract between DCC and Covanta Energy contains a get-out clause that could allow the council to walk away from its original agreement.

However, the Herald understands that the council has no intention of ending the contract with Covanta, in spite of ongoing rows with Environment Minister John Gormley.

A spokesperson for the DCC insisted today it is merely following Government policy in relation to waste management.

According to reports, the council or Covanta can pull out of the project without financial implications if certain conditions are not met within a 36-month period that expires on Sunday.

The agreement between the two parties was initially signed on September 4, 2007 but progress has been difficult because of local objections and stalling tactics from Mr Gormley who is a TD for the Poolbeg area.

He has refused to issue a foreshore licence which would allow Covanta to build a cooling plant that is essential for the waste burner.

Details of the contract between the company and DCC were revealed by RTE's Prime Time last night which reported that come Sunday the "parties may exercise their rights to terminate this agreement".





Sensitive

Experts say that this means the council has a "get-out clause" that won't cost taxpayers money.

A spokesperson for DCC told the Herald: "Any negotiations are commercially sensitive in relation to this and we won't be commenting."

However, officials see the suggestion that the council could terminate the agreement with Covanta without any cost as "nonsense", because the council has already invested more than €120m in the project.

"It cost a lot to get to his stage," one official told the Herald.

Mr Gormley has made it clear that he will do everything within his power to obstruct the council's plans to build the plant.

But council officials are determined to power ahead with the project that has been 14 years in the making.

In the most recent slight to the minister, the Council moved to buy land using a Compulsory Purchase Order so that they could overcome the lack of a foreshore licence.

Labour TD Ruairi Quinn today described the incinerator as "a bad journey for everybody involved".

kdoyle@herald.ie


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