Simon Coveney to oppose harbour waste facility

The minister for the defence and marine, Simon Coveney, will oppose controversial new plans for a €160m incinerator in Cork Harbour.

Coveney will make a submission to An Bord Pleanála before the mid-week deadline, in relation to Indaver’s latest planning application for a commercial incinerator in Ringaskiddy, which has been made under the strategic infrastructure process.

“I’m very much opposed to it,” Mr Coveney said. “I think it’s not consistent with what we’re trying to do in the harbour area.”

Since Indaver’s last, failed attempt to develop the incinerator, the State has invested hundreds of millions of euro in the harbour. It has developed the IMERC campus, a university-style research precinct, which is a collaboration between the National Maritime College, the new Beaufort wind-and-wave-energy research lab, and the nearby headquarters of the Irish Naval Service.

It is also spending millions on the remediation of the toxic waste dump on Haulbowline Island to transform it into a public park, and millions on the development of Spike Island as Ireland’s Alcatraz.

Mr Coveney said the state investment in Cork Harbour could top €500m over 10 years. “There is going to be a lot of marine tourism, and marine leisure, as part of that campus over the next few years,” he said.

“I just don’t think the Indaver proposal is consistent with that, and I think the site they are proposing to put a large commercial incinerator on isn’t suitable, and isn’t consistent with what is happening literally next door. Ministers don’t normally put in objections to things, but, I think, given the time and political commitment I’ve given to delivering really positive development around the harbour, the idea that we would be seeing a commercial incinerator being built next door undermines a lot of what we’ve been trying to do.”

Indaver submitted a planning application to An Bord Pleanála last January, for a 240,000-tonne-per-annum waste-to-energy incinerator in Ringaskiddy. It has sparked outrage in the locality, and prompted a major protest march last Thursday.

Indaver says the proposed facility will treat household, commercial, industrial, non-hazardous and suitable hazardous waste, generating 18.5MW of electricity for export to the national grid.

The company said Ireland produces two million tonnes of residential municipal solid waste per year, and can’t manage it. It said the State has become too reliant on the export of the non-recyclable residual waste, for incineration in Europe — a practice that is becoming more expensive.

This reliance on export outlets for the treatment of residual waste represents a loss in revenue to the economy, and a loss in the valuable energy resource in the waste, it said. “It is also not sustainable and it is becoming difficult, and more expensive, to secure these outlets in Europe,” it added.

The Southern Waste Region Management Plan, 2015-2021, supports the development of 300,000 tonnes of thermal-recovery capacity, or incinerators, for the treatment of municipal wastes.

Indaver said this waste plan also highlights the unbalanced national distribution of incinerators — they are all based in Leinster — and the Ringaskiddy project would address this imbalance. It also said the Ringaskiddy site is in an industrial and strategic employment area, and that it will spend up to €750,000 on amenity upgrades.


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