Irish Times - 05/01/06
Indaver Ireland strongly
lobbied the Government in 2004 to change the planning laws to allow
the company to burn waste at its proposed Co Meath incinerator from
counties outside Meath, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan, writes Mark Hennessy,
It currently has approval to burn 150,000 tonnes.
During meetings in 2004 with then minister for the environment Martin Cullen and senior officials, Indaver objected to rules barring it from burning rubbish from other areas.
In a presentation in January 2004 to Mr Cullen, the company said it had "major difficulties" with the restrictions because they would increase their costs and allow their customers "to dictate terms".
"Our customers would be positioned to dictate the terms of our business relationship: volumes, gate fees, credit terms, resulting in a poor business relationship and a commercial imbalance," Mr Cullen was told.
Under the Government's original plans, the State was to be broken up into 10 regions, each with an incinerator to burn rubbish created within its own area.
The boundary problem was raised again in June 2004 by Indaver's chief executive John Ahern when he met with Department of the Environment officials John McCarthy and Jason Kearney.
According to minutes seen by The Irish Times, the meeting considered "what was needed to be done to strike the necessary balance of adhering to the regional approach while also providing for inter-regional movements of waste.
"While no agreement or undertaking by the department was arrived at, it was made clear that the department/Minister is aware of the complexities/ difficulties arising and will continue to assess the situation with other stakeholders in the coming weeks," said the minutes.
Indaver then produced a draft change to the planning conditions then in place so that Carranstown would be used "primarily for waste generated and produced in the northeast region", according to a page accompanying the minute.
Indaver's own estimates for the Carranstown plant are increasing all the time since in June 2004 it said that the tonnage would not exceed 170,000.
Mr Cullen's successor as Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, removed the ban on rubbish crossing regional boundaries in May 2005 when he made regulations under Section 60 of the Waste Management Act, 1996.
The legislation allows the Minister "when he thinks it proper, to give general directions in writing to the Environmental Protection Agency or each local authority as to policy in relation to issues such as waste planning, the management of waste recovery or disposal activities carried on without a waste licence and the performance of the local authorities in relation to waste movements".
The Department of the Environment recognised in an April 2004 document, called Taking Stock and Moving Forward, that it would make sense on some occasions to allow some rubbish to cross regional boundaries.
"Under the old rules, rubbish collectors in some areas would not be able to bring the rubbish to the nearest dump or incinerator. This way, they can," said a Department of the Environment spokesman last night.
However, Green Party TD Ciarán Cuffe said Indaver's decision to lodge a new planning application to burn 33 per cent more waste "is a clear indication that their lobbying has paid off".
Following the change made by Mr Roche, "the people of Meath may well have to accept thousands of tons of Dublin's waste every year if the new proposal by Indaver gets the go-ahead".
He said Indaver was clearly preparing in mid-2004 to submit a planning application for a bigger incinerator even while they were giving promises to residents that this would not happen.
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment