Harbour residents face third battle

Residents in Cork Harbour are facing another massive battle with Indaver after it confirmed plans last night to lodge a third planning application for a €140m incinerator in the area.

The news came just hours after the waste management firm dropped its High Court challenge to An Bord Pleanála’s rejection of the project last year.

Harbour residents, who have been fighting the incinerator project for 11 years, called on Indaver to walk away from the project.

However, the firm said a fresh application would be made — most likely under An Bord Pleanála’s strategic infrastructure development process — in due course.

Indaver managing director John Ahern said that the company dropped its legal challenge after considering a new report by Cork County Council on its waste management strategy.

It emerged this week that Indaver is expected to export up to 50,000 tonnes of domestic waste from Cork city and county this year for disposal abroad due to a lack of local facilities to cater for the waste.

Mr Ahern said based on his firm’s review of the council report, it was clear the need for its incinerator was “greater than ever”.

Indaver says the 146-page council report states:

* The council’s waste management strategy “no longer remains relevant”;

* The absence of local waste facilities is among the reasons why a new plan must be developed;

* The council needs to review its waste management policy objectives to ensure it can meet waste diversion targets.

“We were always convinced of the region’s need for our facility,” said Mr Ahern. “The council’s evaluation is an important development, particularly given that the existing waste plan was one of the key reasons cited by An Bord Pleanála in its original refusal to grant permission.

“We are also satisfied that the other matters highlighted by the Bord in its previous refusal have been addressed.”

Mary O’Leary, chairwoman of Chase (Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment), welcomed Indaver’s decision to drop the legal challenge but added that it was time for the company to honour their commitment to walk away. “After 11 years of planning applications, oral hearings, court battles, not to mention cost, we as a community hope that Indaver can now accept the unsuitability of the site.”

Chase solicitor Joe Noonan said that by dropping its legal challenge, Indaver had effectively “run up the white flag”. “We saw no merit in their application and we think they’ve come to the same view and they should now do the decent thing and let people get on with their lives,” he said.

But the battle looks set to drag on with Indaver already engaged in pre-application talks with An Bord Pleanála under its strategic infrastructure development process.

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