Indaver casts doubt on its incinerator project
A MASSIVE expansion of the proposed incinerator at Carranstown, Duleek, has been granted planning permission by Meath County Council, but Indaver Ireland, the company behind the project, is now saying it is not financially viable to build it unless restrictions are placed on landfill in Ireland.
This could put plans for the construction of the incinerator on hold, and while Indaver say they are committed to building the plant, the company has admitted there is now “uncertainty over the timing” of the controversial project.
Planning permission has been granted subject to 32 planning conditions to increase the capacity of the Euro 100m incinerator by one-third, which would allow the burning of 200,000 tonnes of waste at the plant each year.
Now Indaver is saying that it cannot compete with landfill and is calling for the Government to place restrictions on landfill such as increased taxes and the banning or recyclable and combustible materials.
“No waste-to-energy operator in Europe could countenance the construction of an incinerator with this excess landfill capacity overhanging the market,” said John Ahern, managing director of Indaver Ireland.
“For an integrated waste management system to be successful, landfill capacity must be restricted, landfill bans on recyclable and combustible waste must be imposed and landfill taxes must be increased to ensure the viability of recycling and waste-to-energy infrastructure,” he added.
Pat O’Brien of the No Incineration Alliance (NIA) said: “Indaver came here telling us we had to have incineration immediately because we had insufficient landfill supply. Now they are trying to tell us we have too much landfill available and they are actually trying to get our government to tax existing and futuristic landfill sites to help make there planned expensive out of date, incinerator, financially viable.”
Mr O’Brien went on to describe the granting of planning permission as ‘a farce’.
“To grant permission to build an incinerator on top of a major supply of high-quality drinking water that supplies water to many people in this region and will supply even more families in the future is crazy. This regionally important aquifer is of immense importance to the people of this region and, with good quality water becoming so scarce, it beggars belief that anybody, especially a local authority, would do anything to put that supply at risk,” he added.
He added that the decision flew in the face of EU directives and World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines which “prohibit the building of large industrial units such as this anywhere near, let alone on top of, such a valuable resource.”
A spokesperson for the Battle for the Boyne Cross-Border Heritage and Environment Forum has also criticised the granting of permission. He said: “It is a disappointing result but not a surprising one. It exposes the hypocrisy of Meath County Council who, on the one hand, promote Meath as the heritage capital of Ireland but, on the other hand, have no difficulty vandalising ancient sites such as Tara, Bru na Boinne and the site of the Battle of the Boyne.
“Meath County Council’s lack of commitment and respect for Meath’s world-class heritage has sunk to a new low. Its councillors and executive should be ashamed of their continuing decimation of heritage,” he said.
“Apart from the heritage issues, local people are concerned at the environmental impact of this decision which now poses the threat of more dioxins and highly toxic substances emitted into the local environment through air and fly ash that has to be disposed of from the facility.”
Indaver has succeeded in having the origin of waste condition loosened to allow the plant accept waste from outside the north-east region and campaigners fear that the plant is no longer a regional incinerator, but a national or even international one.
“This seems to have gone from a regional incinerator to a national one and we fear it may become an international incinerator,” said Mr O’Brien, adding that the “councillors and elected representatives don’t seem to have much say anymore.”
It is expected that the NIA and the Battle for the Boyne Group, among others, will appeal the granting of planning permission to an Bord Pleanala.
Construction of the e100m facility was due to commence in the first quarter of 2007 but Indaver project manager Jackie Keaney said that “market conditions were not right” and that this “stops us from determining when we are going to build it.”
Meath East Fianna Fail election candidate Thomas Byrne has claimed that Meath County Council’s decision in relation to the extension to the incinerator at Duleek was “totally predictable”.
He said: “No-one need feign surprise at this decision. The fight goes on, but I will be very surprised if An Bord Pleanala overturns this decision.”
Sinn Fein councillor Michael Gallagher said he was at a waste management conference in Brussels in May where a “damning report” was presented by the WHO on incineration. He said a survey undertaken in France had found that property within a 15-mile radius of incinerators had fallen by 20 per cent.
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment