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Gormley loses battle to halt Poolbeg plant

JOHN Gormley's battle to block the €350m Poolbeg incinerator is over, giving Dublin a jobs boost.

The former Minister for the Environment had fought tooth and nail to keep the waste facility out of his Dublin South East constituency.

But new minister Phil Hogan today ditched Mr Gormley's plans to place a huge levy on incineration, which would have made the Poolbeg plant unviable.

As many as 600 jobs will be created after work on the project gets under way.

However, the facility remains deeply unpopular in Dublin South East, where residents have campaigned for years against the plant.

At least 500 construction jobs and a further 100 permanent positions will be created.

Mr Hogan unveiled a series of waste policy changes today, including higher charges on landfill.

This will drastically cut the amount of rubbish being buried in the ground.

He also wants to implement a system of single-company waste routes, leading to the end of competition for householders.

City and county councils around the country will choose one company to perform the task in their local authority areas following a tendering process.

At the moment, families can choose between different waste operators.

The policy change is in line with proposals from the four Dublin local authorities later deemed anti-competitive by the High Court.

In December 2009, Mr Justice Liam McKechnie quashed changes to the Dublin waste management plan whereby only the councils -- or contractors appointed by them -- could collect household waste in the region.

The case arose from a challenge by firms Panda and Greenstar, which took separate cases against the councils claiming the change to the plan was an abuse of dominant position and contrary to competition law.

The plant is designed to encourage higher recycling rates and composting to dispose of rubbish.

Mr Gormley claimed it was too big for the amount of waste expected to be generated in the Dublin region.

He said the taxpayer would end up picking up the tab because of the so-called 'put-or-pay' clause in the contract agreed with incinerator operator Covanta.

But this argument was dismissed by Dublin City Council.