Indaver ruling: Concern over decision delay

THE 10-year battle over Ireland’s first toxic waste incinerator raises questions about the decision-making processes, a leading environmental law expert has said.

Joe Noonan, partner with Noonan Linehan Carroll Coffey Solicitors in Cork, spoke out after An Bord Pleanála turned down Indaver’s plans for a €150 million toxic waste incinerator in Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour, which were first lodged in 2001.

The board cited four reasons for refusing the controversial project:

- Overdevelopment of the site.

- Flood risk on the approach roads.

- Concerns about coastal erosion around the site.

- Incompatibility with the regional or county waste management strategies.

But Mr Noonan, who assisted the legal challenge for CHASE, the most vocal of the project’s opponents, said the same reasons were put on the table by objectors seven years ago. “The main lesson to be learned out of this 10-year-long saga is that Ireland needs better decision-making. The delays and mis-steps that characterised this process have to be eliminated and are in nobody’s interest.”

He said the reasons for the refusal were also among those recommended by the board’s senior inspector, Philip Jones, after the first oral hearing into the project in 2004. “The board should have listened to Inspector Jones then, instead of ignoring his report and imposing another seven years of hardship, worry and expense on the Cork Harbour communities.”

Mr Noonan paid tribute to the professional planning staff in the board, who he said did “an exceptional job” and to the members of CHASE for their “personal courage”.

CHASE chairwoman Mary O’Leary said they were “stunned and delighted” by the decision.

“An Bord Pleanála has given concrete reasons for refusal, and these are grounds which have been argued from the outset by CHASE,” she said. “We are happy to have been listened to at last, but lessons must be learned from this process and better decisions adopted at the first hurdle in everyone’s interests.”

Indaver said it remains committed to the project.

“We are disappointed but not discouraged by this decision,” a spokesman said. “We believe that the reasons given by the board for its decision can be addressed.”

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