There were angry exchanges and at least three calls for an adjournment at the opening day of An Bord Pleanála’s oral hearing into proposals by waste management company Indaver Ireland to build a €160m incinerator in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork.
Opening the proceedings for Chase (Cork Harbour Area for a Safe Environment), solicitor Joe Noonan said they were concerned by the addition at this stage of substantial information about the process, which he said should have been included in the original planning application.
He said CHASE was entitled to adequate time to assess this information, that there were difficulties “in trying to deal with issues on the hoof”, and he requested that it be noted CHASE were continuing to engage with the hearing under protest.
There was uproar in the packed room amid claims the website on which this additional information will be made available is owned and operated by Indaver, with some expressing concern the information could be “diluted”.
Mr Noonan questioned the validity of Indaver’s application to An Bord Pleanála, saying the name Indaver Ireland, as given on the application, did not tally with the company registration number provided, which he said belonged to Belgian company Indaver NV plc. The board’s senior planning inspector Derek Daly said the issues raised would be addressed during the course of the hearing.
Much of the morning was taken up with a roll call of those who made or contributed to the 260 submissions to the board, with 27 groups and many more individuals indicating they would be presenting in large numbers over the coming weeks.
Ringaskiddy Residents Assocation said they would have 40 speakers.
Acting junior Foreign Affairs Minister Sean Sherlock expressed concern that construction of an incinerator “in close proximity” to the €29m IMERC campus — an innovation hub with 45 industry partners which was intent on “positioning Ireland to the forefront of marine renewable energy globally” — might compromise future investment.
In his opening statement in the afternoon, Rory Mulcahy SC, on behalf of Indaver, said the landscape had changed completely since the last time the company sought, and was refused planning permission. On the previous occasion, the plan to treat municipal waste did not accord with the relevant policies of the time.
However, the development proposed is now “entirely in accordance” with both waste and energy policy at a national, regional, and local level, said Mr Mulcahy.
He confirmed the company will have to seek a new licence from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its planned 240,000 tonnes per-annum waste-to-recovery facility, as the previous licence, granted in 2005, had expired.
An account by Indaver Ireland managing director John Ahern of how the company operates, prompted a comment that, on the occasion of a fourth public hearing into his proposals, his “lecture on incineration” had “lost the charm of novelty”.
A number of experts spoke on Indaver’s behalf, including Dave Coakley, of Coakley O’Neill Town Planning Ltd, who concluded the application “would be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.
Fiona Patterson of consultant engineers Arup, who spoke about site suitability, said it had been primarily evaluated according to criteria in the Southern Region Waste Management Plan 2015-2021 and that the “conclusions”were that the site was suitable for the facility.
Niall Harte, who leads the transportation division of Arup’s Cork office, said they accepted the advice of Cork County Council to restrict construction traffic to the site during two peak periods 7am-9am and 4pm-6pm. He said the development “can be accommodated by the local road network”.
Ken Leahy, head of Arup’s flood risk assessment and management concluded that in flood risk terms, the site at Ringaskiddy “is considered appropriate for development of the nature proposed”.
The hearing continues today. It is Indaver’s third application for planning permission since 2001 and opposition to the proposal remains undimmed among the local community.
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