A local authority yesterday decided to close its landfill from the end of 2014 due to the increasing amount of waste being exported — but retained the option to reopen the facility in the coming years.
Kerry County Council unanimously agreed to a recommendation from its environmental services director Oliver Ring to mothball its last remaining landfill, near Tralee.
Mr Ring said that demand for waste from energy-generating incinerators in other EU countries was continually reducing demand for landfill space in Ireland, which has seen a drop in operational landfills from 21 to eight since 2011.
“The cost of landfilling apparently exceeds the cost of shipping the waste out of the country,’’ said Mr Ring.
The meeting was told waste companies were making a €75 per tonne saving by exporting to countries such as Holland and Germany.
The north Kerry landfill has enough capacity to meet the needs of waste transfer stations around the county — which are to remain open for the foreseeable future — for the next 12 months.
The council had considered constructing an additional €1.6m cell at the landfill, but has now decided against because of the changing waste environment and no guarantees of getting adequate quantities of waste.
Mr Ring said it would “make no financial or economic sense’’ to invest in a new cell, also said uncertainty about national waste policy made any such investments risky.
Nationally, more than 250,000 tonnes of waste was exported in 2013 and all indications are that this figure has increased substantially in the current year, he said.
Mr Ring said the landfill licence would be valid for three years from the date of the closure/mothballing and extension beyond that period could also be applied for.
It will cost the council €2.2m to maintain the landfill until the end of 2016.
Fianna Fáil councillor John Brassil said that while the decision to mothball the facility was regrettable, it was the most prudent option given all the circumstances.
Independent councillor Danny Healy-Rae said it was very sad to see the landfill closing, which was symptomatic of the gradual erosion of services traditionally provided by local authorities.
“It’s the people who will suffer in the long run as they will have to pay big money to providers of services who will have monopolies,’’ said Mr Healy-Rae.
South Kerry Independent Alliance councillor Michael Gleeson called for a long-term commitment to waste transfer stations, warning the county would be infested with litter and irreparable damage would be done to tourism, if they disappeared.
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