Irish Examiner - 28/10/04
OUTRAGED community groups will seek an oral hearing into yesterday’s decision by the Environment Protection Agency to grant a draft licence to Indaver (Ireland) for waste incineration plants in Cork and Meath.
Residents in Cork harbour said they had no confidence in the state agency and claimed its decision was an affront to democracy and demeaning to local communities.
The EPA announcement came as harbour residents opposed to the planned Ringaskiddy plant arrived at the High Court in Dublin to seek permission for a judicial review of a Bord Pleanála decision to grant planning permission.
Residents said the EPA decision, which allows Indaver to develop combined hazardous and non-hazardous waste incineration plants in Ringaskiddy and Dulleek, was ill-timed.
Opposition group CHASE said that the decision also raised doubts about the independence of the EPA.
Mary O’Leary, who heads CHASE, said yesterday residents would demand an oral hearing. “We are furious and bitterly disappointed,” she said.
“The EPA decision shows all the signs of a done deal. The agency is supposed to be an arm of the Government but we have to question its independence as an environmental body. The EPA has sold out on the residents of Cork harbour.”
The EPA decision is the first step in the statutory licensing process to provide for incineration with energy recovery of combined hazardous and non-hazardous waste in Ringaskiddy and for incineration with energy recovery of non-hazardous waste at Carranstown, Co Meath.
The draft licence decision is subject to a 28-day public consultation period before a full licence is granted.
The EPA said yesterday that as the licensing process was still at a preliminary stage, it would not comment on the specifics of the two facilities for which draft licences had been issued.
However, the agency said the conditions attached would ensure stringent conditions to protect health and environment.
But Mrs O’Leary stormed: “More than 30,000 people in Cork, alone, have said ‘No’.
“A senior planner in Cork County Council said ‘No’, while the chief inspector in the Bord Pleanála hearing came out in favour of the residents and their concerns,” she said.
She said: “The message from the people of Cork to the Government is: ‘What part of our opposition does it not understand?’
“We are outraged at the timing of the EPA decision. The EPA knew the residents were seeking permission for a judicial review.”
Mrs O’Leary said CHASE would demand that any EPA oral hearing would deal with the primary issues of health and risk to the environment from the Indaver projects, which could not be discussed at the Bord Pleanála hearing.
The EPA, in its announcement, claimed the conditions attached to the management, operation, control and monitoring of the proposed facilities meet and exceeded the highest standards set by EU directives.
The agency said it was satisfied that the proposed plants would not endanger human health or harm the environment in the vicinity of the facilities or over a wider area.
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment