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Latest: Indaver 'open to discussions' with residents as Managing Director stresses need for incinerator

Update 8.45am: Managing Director of Indaver Ireland John Ahern has reiterated the need for the incinerator in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork.

Speaking on Morning Ireland Mr Ahern said that as the population continues to grow, so will waste levels and the need to process this waste.

He said: "Unfortunately there is an awful lot of waste. We're getting a bit better at our recycling rates but even with the best recycling rates in Europe, if we match those there will still be over 300,000 tonnes available.

"As the population grows, and as the National Development Plan says we are expected to grow by one million.

"There will be more than enough waste in Cork and the area."

John Ahern; managing director of Indaver Ireland. Picture: David Keane.

When pressed whether or not it will be used for just Irish waste, Mr Ahern said: "Absolutely, 100% guaranteed.

"We even offered that if the board wanted to they could put a condition on it, but I don't think they saw a need for that either."

He responded to fears that Ringaskiddy was chosen because it is a port and there are fears it could lead to the importation of waste.

He said: "We chose Ringaskiddy, not because it was a port, but because the land was zoned for industry.

"Around ports, you tend to find industrially zoned land, you will find many incinerators in ports for that reason, not because of the need to import that waste.

[quote]We are as a country exporting our waste to other countries and we are fortunate that they are accepting it, but we're not sure how long that can continue.[/quote]

Concerns were raised about increased levels of pollution from the plant and the heavy goods vehicles as well as ash transportation, plant water runoff, and exposure to dioxins.

He responded: "If any of those things were true, I don't believe An Bord Pleanála would have given us permission.

"In relation to the trucks, yes there will be more trucks in the area...but the waste is in trucks and they have to go somewhere."

Mr Ahern was challenged on the incorrect information regarding the dioxin levels.

He said: "Well we didn't give it deliberately - believe me it was a mistake and a very embarrassing one.

"We have to combine an environmental impact statement...and one annex, not the wrong information, the information from a different project that the consultant had inserted was incorrect.

"That was corrected as soon as we found it."

When asked about the opposition to the proposed plans, and the people who will endeavor to stop the incinerator going ahead, Mr Ahern said Indaver are always open to discussions.

[quote]I heard the members of the Ringaskiddy Residence Association on Prime Time, and of course, I understand their anger, but it doesn't solve the waste management problem of Ireland.[/quote]

"I understand from media reports that they would like to go to the High Court, but maybe there's another model, maybe there are other places where mediation is entered into, before, and in parallel, if wished, instead of going to the expense of the High Court.

"We're open to discussions all the time."

Earlier: Incinerator opponents vow to keep up fight

By Eoin English

We may have lost this battle, but the war isn’t over yet.

That is the defiant message from environmental campaigners in the wake of An Bord Pleanála’s decision to go against its inspector’s recommendation and grant planning for a controversial €160m waste-to-energy incinerator in Cork Harbour.

The site of the Indaver incinerator in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, marked in red. Pic: Tom Coakley Photography

A GoFundMe campaign has now been launched to help campaign group, Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (Chase), which has been fighting the project for 17 years, raise up to €200,000 to mount a possible legal challenge against the decision in the High Court.

Chase chairwoman Mary O’Leary said they were “shocked, angry, and deeply disappointed” at the board’s decision and will consult with their legal advisers over the coming days about a possible judicial review.

“The endless delays in coming to this decision was always a cause for concern but we hoped against hope that the board would make the right decision,” she said.

“For a third inspector to recommend a refusal of permission underlines the unsuitability of this site and really questions why the board saw fit to grant it, even in spite of the erroneous dioxin figures exposed on the final day of the 2016 hearing.”

In deciding not to accept its inspector’s recommendations, the board said waste-to-energy plants operate successfully in a range of urban environments and when well designed, operated and regulated, do not “unduly constrain neighbouring land uses”.

“The board considered that the development of a modern waste-to-energy facility would be compatible with continued development of the educational campus facilities in the area and with the ongoing improvement of tourism and amenities in the lower harbour,” it said.

“The board concluded that the proposed facility would integrate successfully with the multi-faceted nature of existing and proposed development.”

However, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who opposed the project in his constituency at its oral hearing in 2016, told the Dáil he felt a sense of deep disappointment and frustration at the decision.

“We are working hard to create something very special at the heart of Cork Harbour,” he said.

“I can understand that people will be very angry and frustrated at this announcement and I share this sense with them.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the decision is completely incompatible with the overall strategy for the lower harbour.

However, Indaver Ireland’s managing director John Ahern welcomed the decision and said additional incineration capacity is required in Ireland if we are to break our reliance on exporting waste.

“Lack of incineration capacity in Ireland will see the State export an estimated 300,000 tonnes of municipal waste this year,” he said.

“This reliance on exporting our waste is not sustainable and exposes us to market shocks.”

John Ahern

He also quoted figures which show a 7% reduction in waste exports since the Poolbeg incinerator began operating last December.

Business group Ibec also welcomed the decision, which it said will help the country to comply with its obligations under the EU’s Waste Framework Directive.

In its order, the board also directed that €15,000 be paid to Chase to cover costs linked to its participation in the oral hearing.

The board said it was granting the costs because the group identified deficiencies in Indaver’s documents which led to the board issuing a further information request.

“This technical input by Chase served to inform the board’s assessment of the case,” it said.

Ms O’Leary said money will only be paid if Chase does not lodge an appeal.

Indaver, which lodged its first planning application for an incinerator in Ringaskiddy in 2001, lodged this application under Bord Pleanála’s strategic infrastructure fast-track process in 2016.

The proposed facility will treat some 240,000 tonnes of household, commercial, industrial waste, non-hazardous and suitable hazardous waste, and generate around 18.5MW of electricity for export to the national grid.

The company said that it is too early to discuss when the facility may become operational.