Report prompts calls to halt incinerator

WASTE collection operators have called for an immediate stoppage to all works on the controversial incinerator at Poolbeg in Dublin after the Economic and Social Research Institute admitted its recentreport on waste management policy contained some errors.

The ESRI published areport entitled An Economic Approach to Municipal Waste Management Policy in Ireland last week, which was critical of a different waste policy favoured by the Minister for the Environment and Green Party leader John Gormley.

The report, commissioned by Dublin City Council at a cost of almost €125,000, has been criticised in turn by a number of environmental experts and economists accusing theESRI of being biased in favour of incineration.

Mr Gormley has also criticised the ESRI, claiming the economic think tank had departed from its normal standards and was being used by the local authority to undermine the Government’s waste policy.

Yesterday, the Irish Waste Management Association said there should be a complete cessation of building work on the new incinerator at Poolbeg to allow for a thorough examination of the project in light of criticisms of the ESRI report.

The IWMA – an affiliate body of IBEC which represents many leading waste collection firms – called for a review of the terms of the contract, the size of thefacility and the expenditure of what it described as “extraordinary levels of monies that have been spent so far.”

IWMA spokesperson Brendan Keane said theorganisation believed the ESRI report was “fundamentally flawed” and claimed the ESRI has questions to answer about the data used in its report.

Mr Keane said the incinerator was twice the size it needed to be, while taxpayers also are exposed to heavy penalties if the council fails to provide a certain level of waste to the facility.

ESRI research professor Richard Tol admitted significant errors had been identified in its report.

The ESRI had incorrectly claimed the cost of emissions from a large-scale incinerator did not have to be factored into any future incinerator levy as it was already included in the EU’s trading scheme. It also failed to assess the option of mechanical biological treatment (MBT), the method favoured by Mr Gormley.

Prof Tol acknowledged the report would be reviewed which could impact on its final outcome.

Prof Dominic Hogg, who conducted an international review of waste policy for Mr Gormley, said the €22m already paid to consultants on the incinerator plan would be enough to build a plant capable of dealing with 100,000 tonnes of waste each year through MBT.

On RTÉ’s The Week in Politics yesterday, Mr Gormley said his door was open to Dublin City Council, Covanta and the ESRI to discuss the matter.

He insisted his cabinet colleagues backed him: “What they understand is that this project is far too big. They understand the relevance of the McKechie judgement and they understand that it can’t go ahead under those circumstances.”


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