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Gormley defends incinerator delay

ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley should be removed from the decision-making process on the Ringsend incinerator, Fine Gael said today.

The call came after the minister lashed out at a US company that is promising 600 jobs, accusing them of trying to "browbeat" him.

The Green TD came under intense pressure today to explain why the creation of jobs in his own constituency is being stalled, despite unemployment hitting a new record high of more than 450,000.

The controversy is on the verge of causing a diplomatic rift between Ireland and the Americans after ambassador Dan Rooney sought an urgent meeting with the minister.

However, Mr Gormley hit back at critics today and accused US company Covanta of running "a slick PR operation" against him.

"I believe and I have been very explicit on this from day one ... I've said the construction of such a plant is entirely incompatible with my national waste strategy," said Mr Gormley.

Covanta has become frustrated by the minister's apparent refusal to grant a foreshore licence that it needs to begin construction on the controversial incinerator.

Bosses say they are "routinely questioned by shareholders about the delays affecting our Ireland project".

Today, Fine Gael's environment spokesperson Phil Hogan called on the Taoiseach to intervene directly, arguing that Mr Gormley is compromised.

And Labour said that the Government's waste policy was a mess that is going to cost taxpayers millions.

"I'm calling on the Taoiseach to clarify if it is appropriate for the Minister for the Environment to adjudicate on this if he has a vested interest," Mr Hogan told the Herald.


The issue has already been raised with Taoiseach Brian Cowen by Ambassador Rooney, but now Mr Hogan has called for prompt action.

"I believe the Taoiseach should remove Minister Gormley from this decision-making process," he said.

However, the minister indicated that he is not for turning on the issue.

He said that he will meet with the Ambassador in an "extremely polite and diplomatic" way.

But he added: "I will not be dissuaded from the course of action. I will be introducing the incineration levies."