Protesters at waste depot call for action

The environment minister has been asked to intervene in a row over the operation of a controversial waste depot in a suburb on Cork’s northside.

Protesters at waste depot call  for action

About 80 residents mounted a protest on the access road to the Country Clean facility in Churchfield yesterday, blocking access for refuse trucks for almost an hour.

The Northside Says No To Rubbish campaigners said they have witnessed little improvement in the management of the facility despite company assurances last month that things would change.

“We have seen little or no progress,” campaigner Liam Walsh said. “People are getting more involved and people are getting angrier.

“Basically we feel let down by our paid council officials, by the paid [Environmental Protection Agency] officials and by a lot of our elected representatives.

“We haven’t seen anybody, apart from one senator, from the government parties. They’ve completely ignored this issue.

“And you had the environment minister at an EPA conference last week speaking about all the things that he had to work on, and on how the waste industry needs to improve, but he never mentioned the processing of waste, or where or how it’s done. Surely that’s one of the most important things he should be looking at?”

Country Clean has been at the centre of controversy for months over the management of the depot, which is licensed to handle 100,000 tonnes of waste.

It is processing most of the domestic waste produced in the city following the closure of the landfill on the Kinsale Rd.

Neighbouring residents have complained about odours, vermin, and noise from late-night recycling operations. The EPA, which has identified a “poor level of compliance” at the site, is treating it as a “national priority site” pending completion of recommended works.

In a statement last night, County Clean said it was working “very hard” to make sure the site is fully compliant with its EPA licence.

“We are disappointed, however, that the residents have chosen to picket our site again and disrupt the running of the business for our hard-working staff trying to access the facility,” the firm said.

“With that said and although these fast-track improvements are costing tens of thousands of euro, we are satisfied with the progress we have made in such a short space of time and we will continue to work with the EPA to make sure we are in compliance with our licence.”

County Clean said it is confident these works will ensure the facility will not have a negative impact on residents.

It restated its willingness to transfer its black bag and food-waste operations from Churchfield to a purpose-built transfer and treatment facility that could be built alongside the unused Bottlehill super-dump facility in North Cork.

Cork County Council is poised to ask the waste industry for its ideas about how the Bottlehill landfill site could be used.

Bur Mr Walsh said the Churchfield waste depot is just “in the wrong location”. “The people who gave them the licences, permits, and planning permission have huge questions to answer,” he said.

“People will accuse us of nimbyism — not in my backyard — but this shouldn’t be in anyone’s backyard.”

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