Irish Examiner - 05/11/04
TWO Government ministers conceded yesterday that the proposed site for the State’s first €93m toxic waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy in County Cork was “inappropriate.”
Defence Minister Willie O'Dea said the decision to site a toxic waste incinerator near the State's naval base at Haulbowline and large tracts of residential housing seemed "very strange."
On his first visit to Haulbowline as Defence Minister, Mr O'Dea said: "The location seems utterly inappropriate is there no other suitable location?"
Junior Environment Minister Batt O'Keeffe said he also felt the site for the proposed incinerator was "inappropriate."
Mr O'Keeffe, who has responsibility for environmental protection, opposed the siting of the Indaver toxic waste plant at Ringaskiddy before he became minister and voted against the proposal as a member of Cork County Council. However, both ministers stressed they were voicing personal opinions and insisted they fully supported Government policy which clearly states incineration is part of the overall waste management strategy.
Both ministers stressed the matter was before the courts since the opponents to the Ringaskiddy incinerator have sought a judicial review on the decision by An Bord Pleanala to give the project the go-ahead. Mr O'Dea said he did not want to interfere with the judicial process or the planning process. "I am merely voicing a private opinion."
The Defence Minister said the dispute reminded him of a similar planning wrangle in Limerick, but that project was blown out of the water by public opinion. This was a proposal to build an incinerator in Crecora, Co Limerick, that was turned down by the local authority and did not proceed because the proposers did not appeal the decision.
"I'm not saying where the toxic waste incinerator should go in Munster I just believe this particular site in Cork is not appropriate," Mr O'Dea added.
While Cork County Council turned down the project, the decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanala. Mr O'Keeffe told an oral hearing held by An Bord Pleanála that he was "not opposed to incineration per se", just to the zoning of that land at Ringaskiddy for incineration. "The IDA had given commitment that this land would only be used for port related activities and that a toxic waste incinerator would not be placed there," said Mr O'Keeffe.
However, now that the matter
is before the courts, Mr O'Keeffe stressed that he did not want
to interfere with the judicial process and was just voicing a personal
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment