A modern, well-designed, and well-run 240,000-tonne incinerator is compatible with and will “integrate successfully” with the range of existing uses in Cork Harbour, the State’s planning appeals board believes.
After the 2016 oral hearing into the €160m project, the inspector in his report said he considered that the project in Ringaskiddy was not compatible with recent developments in the area which include the National Maritime College, IMERC and Beaufort labs.
He described data in the environmental impact statement as deficient; he said he had concerns about the alternative site selection process, which he described as “seriously deficient”; and said he believed the proposed development would constitute overdevelopment of the site.
It prompted requests for further information which led to the inspector writing an “addendum report” in which he said he is now satisfied with the EIS data, and that the proposed development would not impact on the safety of helicopter flight paths into or out of the Irish naval base at Haulbowline.
But in deciding not to accept his recommendation to refuse planning permission, the board said yesterday that it notes the existing education and research facilities that have been developed next to the site and proposals to create hundreds of green-energy-related jobs in the area.
It also notes the massive public investment in public amenities, heritage and tourism assets on Spike Island and Haulbowline.
But in its order, the board said the Cork County Development Plan 2014-2020 enables the location of large-scale waste treatment facilities, including waste to energy facilities in industrial areas designated as “strategic employment areas”, which is the overarching land use objective applying to Ringaskiddy in the development plan.
It said the site of the proposed incinerator is close to the expanding Port of Cork facility and to various pharmachem plants and large-scale utilities.
“The Board was, therefore, cognisant of competing objectives in relation to the future development of the area,” it said.
"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.
“The Board concluded that the proposed facility would integrate successfully with the multi-faceted nature of existing and proposed development in the area, and would not be contrary to the development plan policies.”
It also said that while it agrees with the inspector on several grounds, including that the project does not pose any significant risk to human health, it said it disagrees with his assessment in a number of others areas, including his concerns about the cumulative impacts in relation to health, land and property values and the risk of an accident.
The Board said it does not share his concerns on any of these issues and does not consider the “interaction of these impacts to be significant”.
The board said it doesn’t share his concerns that the project could significantly impact on the population and on future economic and community investment.
Its order is to grant a 10-year planning permission and a 30-year operational life from the completion of the construction of the incinerator.
Indaver said it is far too early to discuss a possible construction start date or a start-date for waste management activities on the site.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved