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'Incinerator won't be stopped in spite of review' -- council

THE contract for Dublin's controversial Poolbeg incinerator is to undergo a lengthy review -- but council officials will continue to pursue the outstanding permission for a foreshore licence which the incinerator requires to operate.

The review, which will last until May 2011, was triggered because conditions set out in the original contract have not been met.

However, County Manager John Tierney said that terminating the contract was effectively off the table due to the high costs involved, and could expose Dublin City Council to claims through the courts.

He said the council has spent €60m on the project already.

Mr Tierney told a council meeting last night that while the contract review will take at least eight months, officials will continue to pursue the outstanding permission which the incinerator requires.

A foreshore licence to allow an out-flow pipe into the sea is required for the incinerator, however, the Department of the Environment has not processed the application, which was lodged in December 2008.

Mr Tierney said he "never thought" the foreshore licence would be a factor, and believed it would be "long granted" by this stage.

The contract between Dublin City Council and Covanta was signed in September 2007.

Last week, it was revealed that the incinerator contract was due to expire on Sunday and, because conditions had not been met, the council could extend, renegotiate or walk away.

Mr Tierney has now explained the contract will undergo a review lasting until at least May next year -- a decision enabling the council to retain all options.

However, he said renegotiating the contract to reduce capacity from 500,000 tonnes was not an option as it would require new permissions and finance.

He also told councillors there was "no question" that waste would be shipped into Ireland to top up the waste capacity.

Termination would also be very expensive -- and so Mr Tierney said officials will continue to pursue the project.