Poolbeg Incinerator and the Irish Times

This unsigned editorial may be written by Frank McDonald. The data which I have seen in Dublin City Council refutes this. I will produce the data in three weeks after the general election.

Poolbeg incinerator

IF THE figures cited by John Hennessy SC in his report on the Poolbeg incinerator contract are even close to being correct, this overblown waste management project would cost taxpayers dearly – if it were to go ahead.An exposure of between €187 million and €350 million over the 25-year contract period arising from the “put or pay” clause in Dublin City Council’s arrangement with US waste management company Covanta would be an intolerable burden on already hard-pressed taxpayers. It is of utmost importance, therefore, that Minister for the Environment Éamon Ó Cuív moves quickly to publish the Hennessy report, as demanded by his precedessor, Green Party leader John Gormley.
Obviously, it is in Mr Gormley’s interest that the report he commissioned as minister should be in the public domain; he faces a struggle to retain his seat in Dublin South East and the incinerator’s fate will influence his chances of doing so. Long before he became minister in 2007, Mr Gormley had been one of the most vocal opponents of this project and then sought during his term of office to thwart it by pursuing a “greener” waste management policy. His latest effort was the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, providing for levies on incineration that would have undermined the economic viability of the Poolbeg project. But that piece of legislation fell with the end of the 30th Dáil.
Whoever forms the next government will need to resuscitate it, not least to replenish the Environment Fund after much of its reserves are expended dealing with the abandoned landfill at Kerdiffstown, Co Kildare, where an underground fire has been raging. Construction of another incinerator near Duleek, Co Meath, is well advanced and Indaver Ireland is seeking approval to increase its capacity by a third, to burn 200,000 tonnes of municipal waste per annum. This will reduce the market for Poolbeg, for which a 2007 contract between Dublin City Council and Covanta is currently under review following the company’s failure to progress the €350 million project over the past three years. Both the council and its American partners must now refrain from taking any precipitate step to revive this contract, so that the next government can decide definitively what to do about Poolbeg. In particular, whoever takes over from Mr Ó Cuív should examine the possibility of cancelling, or at least scaling down, this controversial project. In the meantime, all of the political parties need to spell out where they stand on Poolbeg and on waste management policy in general.