After a lengthy debate in County Hall yesterday, elected members decided to draft a five-point letter outlining their reasons for objecting to the proposed project, which is the subject of a Bord Pleanala oral hearing, due to commence next Tuesday.
Main concerns of councillors are a risk of flooding at the Ringaskiddy site; risk of coastal erosion; poor road infrastructure locally; incompatibility with nearby research centres; and a threat to tourism initiatives.
It is the company’s third attempt since 2002 to secure planning in Ringaskiddy.
Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus McGrath said Bord Pleanála had refused planning to Indaver in 2011 due to flood and coastal erosion risk and, if anything, the risks were increasing with global warming.
“In my view the development would have catastrophic repercussions for local people and even those further afield,” Mr McGrath said. He also added it “was deeply regrettable” the council’s executive staff had not come out against the project in a management report to be furnished to the planning appeals’ body,
Fine Gael councillor Deirdre Forde declared: “What part of ‘no’ does Indaver not understand?”
Her Cobh-based party colleague Sinead Sheppard said the harbour was becoming greener and more tourist-friendly, adding that it was “absolutely disgraceful” the council executive were not taking a more negative view.
Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton, an environmental engineer, said Indaver’s proposals might well be in line with the Southern Region Waste Management Plan but the incinerator was earmarked for the wrong site, due to the likelihood of flooding and its proximity to the national maritime college and naval base.
Sinn Féin councillor Des O’Grady said Indaver “had a brass neck” to come back for planning for a third time, while Fianna Fáil councillor Bob Ryan said many experts believe it was not viable to have an incinerator burning 240,000 tonnes a year unless its owners imported waste.
“The fact that we’re here for a third time is an affront,” said Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Rose Desmond. “Indaver should accept the democratic resolution and walk away. It would do irreversible damage to the harbour.”
Fine Gael councillor Susan McCarthy (FG) said the incinerator would be “the height of an eight-storey building on an elevated site at the entrance to our beautiful harbour. I can’t understand that we’re even contemplating this.”
Her party colleague, Anthony Barry, a farmer, said he would have serious concerns about the impact it might have on the dairy sector, while Labour councillor Cathal Rasmussen said nobody living in the harbour area was happy. “If we’re not careful, we will destroy Cork harbour,” he said.
Independent councillor Claire Cullinane said 120,000 people arrive on cruise liners every year and a huge incinerator stack on the skyline would not present a great impression of the area.