A major ‘eco park’ could be operational at a mothballed landfill in Co Cork by the spring of 2017 after a number of waste companies showed interest in renting the facility.
That is the hope of Cork County Council which took the decision to ‘freeze’ the €48m site at Bottlehill two years ago because it was not deemed economically viable at the time to open it up.
The local authority got Deloitte to seek expressions of interest from the private sector and has received nine submissions, some of which have come from major companies which are household names.
Sharon Corcoran, the council’s director of environment, told the Irish Examiner that Deloitte was currently seeking further information on the expressions of interest and she was hoping to have a full report on her desk from them within the week.
Ms Corcoran said she would then look at the feasibility of suggested projects and invite companies into a tendering process.
Although Bottlehill was developed as one of the country’s largest landfills, Ms Corcoran said the council had changed tack and did not just want to rely on burying waste at the site which lies in forestry a few kilometres north of Cork City.
The council has a licence at the site to bury 660,000 tonnes of waste over a five-year period.
However, Ms Corcoran said she that would like to see alternative energy used there as well, such as anaerobic digesters which convert waste food into heat and electricity; and the use of wind farms.
Bottlehill is sparsely populated and on an elevated site, which would make it an ideal side for wind turbines and Ms Corcoran said that different projects could coexist there as part of “an eco-park”.
“We already have a landfill cell developed in Bottlehill, but haven’t opened it up,” she said. “Anyway, we would like to see landfill as an ancillary feature there.
“It’s good to know that a number of companies have expressed interest in the site.
“The next phase will be to go out to tender seeking costed proposals and we would hope to do this in the spring of 2015.”
Ms Corcoran said she would like to see the site operational by the spring of 2017, although this would depend “on the planning permission process going smoothly”.
“Whatever is proposed will have to be environmentally sustainable and will probably require a new licence and planning permission,” she said.
It was initially suggested that Bottlehill would take all the waste from Cork City and county and possibly from further afield.
However, the local authority decided to mothball the facility two years ago because there was a large amount of spare landfill capacity nationwide.
Many private refuse contractors were at the time sending waste collected in Cork to landfills in other parts of the country.
In 2010, the council sold off its own refuse collection service to Country Clean, deciding instead to concentrate on administering waste disposal.
Ms Corcoran said she hopes to deliver a report to councillors on the future of Bottlehill sometime next month.