MINISTER for the Environment John Gormley has said the future of the Cork harbour island of Haulbowline will be decided at a cabinet meeting in coming weeks.
A list of potential options, including whether to cap the toxic waste dump or to continue to re-mediate the site, will be presented to Government. It was estimated by contractors last year that a full clean-up could cost up to e300 million.
Options include the storing of waste in tanks, or its permanent removal. However, central to any future plans, the department says, is a public consultation process with local communities.
Speaking at UCC yesterday, Mr Gormley re-stated his commitment to cleaning-up of the toxic site.
“We have spent more money on that site since coming to government than any other government before. The money is coming from the Environment Fund which is ring-fenced revenue from the plastic bag and landfill levy. The waste is still in situ and we will continue to invest in the site to ensure it is cleaned to best international standards,” he said.
To the delight of the anti-incineration lobby who were present at conference, the minister also re-iterated his opposition to landfilling waste — just weeks before an oral hearing is to be held by An Bord Pleanála into the controversial e54m incinerators planned for Cork Harbour.
“Landfill is, with limited exceptions, a redundant technology. I believe also that simply placing an equally unbalanced reliance on incineration cannot be regarded as an acceptable solution,” he said.
Speaking at the UCC Law and the Environment Conference, he said that Ireland, despite its woeful reputation for environmental regulation, was beginning to make strides in bringing offenders to court.
“Improvements are being made in planning and environmental law enforcement. I can tell you that resources will not be an impediment to legal enforcement,” he said.
He also expressed concern about the judiciary’s grasp of environmental law.
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