Council may give lease to firm operating proposed incinerator
The head of Cork County Council’s environment directorate is to recommend that a lease be given to waste management company Indaver to bury ash from its proposed incinerator in Cork harbour at a local landfill.
Sharon Corcoran is also to recommend that an as-yet-unnamed company dealing in solar and wind energy also get a lease on the council-owned landfill at Bottlehill.
The council has been in extensive talks with both companies for several months and is anxious to use the Bottlehill site, which was ‘mothballed’ after nearly €50m was spent turning it into a municipal landfill.
The local authority had planned to use the site from 2010, but that plan was scrapped when it became apparent that there was an excess of landfill in other counties and it would be economically unviable to open it.
Should Indaver get planning permission for its proposed incinerator at Ringaskiddy, it will bury around 40,000 tonnes per annum of residual ash at the Bottlehill site.
Last June, the county council decided to seek expressions of interest from the private sector for projects at the Bottlehill site, which is 20km north of Cork city.
Five companies originally applied for permission to use the site. However, an interview panel, comprising accountancy firm Deloitte and Fehily and Timoney engineers, whittled them down to two.
“We are in discussion about a heads of agreement with both [remaining companies],” Ms Corcoran said.
Ms Corcoran said the interview panel focussed on the price offered by the companies, the quality of their proposals, and the environmental sustainability of the projects.
She said that she is now preparing a report on her recommendations, which she will give to council chief executive Tim Lucey shortly.
It is expected that he will recommend it to councillors. However, under the Local Government regulations, it will be up to the 55 councillors sitting in County Hall to agree to it.
The council is anxious to recoup money from the currently mothballed site for the taxpayer.
[timgcap=Council chief executive Tim Lucey]exam31032014timlucey_large.jpg/timgcap]
It currently costs the local authority around €200,000 per year to maintain the mothballed site to Environment Protection Agency (EPA) standards.
“Our objective [for the site] was always to get a mixture of renewable and sustainable uses for it,” said Ms Corcoran.
She added that the council wanted to maximise its return on the site and leases to the companies would be long-term, probably of about 30 years.
Bord Pleanála recently held a lengthy oral hearing into Indaver’s proposals for the €160m incinerator at Ringaskiddy and is expected to make a decision on the application in the middle of July.
A large proportion of the 100-hectare site at Bottlehill is elevated and considered ideal for wind turbines and solar panels.
The council has already created 6.5 acres of landfill pits on the site, which could be used immediately.
These pits could deal with 660,000 tonnes of waste in the immediate to mid–term future.
The EPA has granted the county council a licence for 5m tonnes of waste over the site’s lifetime.
Ms Corcoran said that the EPA may have to conduct a review of the licence, should the Indaver project in Ringaskiddy get the green light from Bord Pleanála.
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