THE land where a proposed €160m incinerator could be built in Ringaskiddy by waste management firm Indaver has been rezoned for educational and research use.
Local Area Plans agreed by Cork County Council this week saw the land in east Ringaskiddy rezoned from industrial to educational use.
An application for planning for the waste management facility is currently before An Bórd Pleanála with a decision expected in mid-August.
This will be assessed under Local Area Plans that were in force when the planning application was submitted and the land was zoned for industrial use.
However, Indaver would be unable to submit another planning application for the incinerator if the current one is rejected by An Bórd Pleanála.
The company said the rezoning is not “evidence based” in a statement released to the Evening Echo.
“While the Councillors have voted to rezone some land, it is contrary to the advice of the Chief Executive of Cork County Council, contrary to the Cork County Development Plan 2014, and contrary to the National Planning Policy Statement 2015, which states that changes need to be plan led and evidenced based.
“Therefore, for these reasons, Indaver believes that the planning application with An Bórd Pleanála will not be affected by the rezoning.”
The rezoning was proposed by Fianna Fáíl Cllr Seamus McGrath and received widespread support from elected members.
“This is the third such application under Indaver and whatever the outcome - my own view is that I hope it doesn't succeed - I think they have been given a fair crack of the whip in relation to applications for incineration in the Ringaskiddy area. It is absolutely within our gift to change the zoning on a site,” he said.
“The community area has suffered a negative impact from the heavy industrial impact over the years and I think it's important in the Local Area Plan that we are cognisant of that fact.
“There is no heavy industry on the east side[of Ringaskiddy] and this is something which I would like to keep where the community can benefit from in addition to the natural assets that are there. It's an area which has a lot to offer,” he added.
Linda Fitzpatrick of the Cork Harbour Alliance for Safe Environment welcomed the change to the land usage.
“We'd see [the rezoning] as an entirely appropriate usage for the land that it is restricted to education and research. For such a large section of the council to agree really backs that view. It sets down a very strong guideline for the land usage. We'd hope that would be taken into account in the decision that An Bórd Pleanála would take.”