Councillors rubbish consultants as failed superdump costs €1m

CASH-STRAPPED Waterford County Council has lost much more than the battle to site a 50-acre “super dump” five miles outside Dungarvan.

This week, the council’s director of services, Denis McCarthy, confirmed that the cost of the protracted landfill saga has topped €1 million.

The dump saga also involved high costs for local residents, who took a High Court challenge to the siting of the dump at Garrynagree.

However, it was last month’s refusal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant an operating licence for the site that brought the council’s plans to a grinding halt.

With the dump stopped, a controversial proposal to locate an incinerator in Waterford to deal with the county’s waste, currently being exported to neighbouring Carlow, has resurfaced.

Two Fianna Fáil councillors have come out in favour of incineration.

“With no landfill of our own, and with none an immediate prospect, we will have to bite the bullet,” said Cllr Pat Leahy.

“We will have to look at incineration and, personally, I would be in favour of it.”

Cllr Kevin Wilkinson said the council will have to be “mature” about “the waste issue”, and, if incineration is the economical way to proceed, then the local authority would have to back it.

Angry councillors, meanwhile, are now training their guns on the council’s consultants - who cost over €500,000 - as the blame game begins.

The trip to the High Court cost the council €244,000, while €188,000 was spent on “site selection”. Add in the “extras” and the figure slips marginally past the €1m mark.

An unapologetic opponent of the Garrynagree site from the outset, Cllr Pat Nugent said the only winners in the dump “debacle” were the consultants, while local residents who fought the issue all the way to the High Court, had to dig deep into their own pockets to fund their legal challenge.

“Now, five years later they have been vindicated”, said Mr Nugent.

“I am not blaming anyone in the council for this, I am blaming the consultants and if there is a winner in all of this it is them.”

Cllr Tom Cronin also targeted the consultants who, he said, should “show a lot more responsibility” when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money.

The decision to try to locate the landfill on the “sensitive” Garrynagree site was a poor one and was grossly unfair to local residents, he added.

Cllr Pat Daly said the entire issue was badly handled, and added that he understood that the EPA decision was made without the agency being in possession of the full facts.

“That is an extraordinary situation if it is correct,” added Mr Daly, “and the consultants should be here to tell us what exactly went on.”

Cllr Paudie Coffey summed up the feelings of many in Co Waterford when he commented that “the whole thing has been a very expensive lesson.”

Council services director Denis McCarthy told councillors that Waterford County Council had a number of options open to it.

One option was to reconsider two sites, initially identified by the consultants, but thought at the time to be less suitable than Garrynagree.

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