‘If I’m going to faint I will tell you beforehand’ said councillor at incinerator hearing

“I think I’m going to cry, inspector” — this was just one of the interjections that lightened the weighty proceedings on day seven of An Bord Pleanála’s oral hearing into an application by Indaver Ireland to build an incinerator in Ringaskiddy.

‘If I’m going to faint I will tell you beforehand’ said councillor at incinerator hearing

And while she managed to stave off the weeping, Marcia D’Alton was less disposed to concealing her contempt for Cork County Council, saying it was “shameful and embarrassing” that a government minister (Simon Coveney) had to defend the tourism and recreational potential of Cork Harbour — a job she felt the council should have done at the hearing.

In a lengthy presentation — broken only when inspector Derek Daly asked her if she would like a break (to which Ms D’Alton replied: “I think I’m OK, but if I’m going to faint, I will tell you beforehand”) — some of the focus was on the visual impact of Indaver’s proposed development, including the 50.7m-high process building block and the 75m-high chimney stack.

Ms D’Alton said both structures would lie directly in the heritage triangle of Fort Camden-Fort Westmoreland and the Ringaskiddy Martello Tower, detracting, in a fundamental way, from their character and setting.

She outlined how the development could detract from the tourism potential of the lower harbour. “Did anyone assess the visual impact of the proposed incinerator from the water?” said Ms D’Alton.

“Our cruise liner visitors... would be almost on a par with the stack as they pass the site both entering and leaving Cork Harbour.”

Port of Cork figures for 2012 showed cruise liners were worth €9.4m to the local economy, she said.

Ms D’Alton, an independent county councillor and an environmental engineer, said instead of a “race against waste”, the Indaver proposal represented a”race for waste”. She said figures used to support Indaver’s plans were “based on four-year-old waste statistics... which are likely to be out of date before the incinerator is even built”.

Emma Neville, a solicitor and a mother of four, told the hearing that if the incinerator goes ahead, “I’ll probably be moving out with my kids because I worry about their health.”

She said she had returned to the area 13 years ago with a young family so that they could “enjoy a fantastic (harbour) amenity”. Since then, five people on her road, between Fountainstown and Carrigaline, had been diagnosed with cancer, including herself, she told the hearing.

An earlier submission, by Allan Navratil of the East Cork Harbour Environmental Association, claimed incineration is “prejudicial to the mantra of reduce, re-use, and recycle”.

Mr Navratil said Indaver should be required to enter “into legally binding agreement before any further consideration of their application, never to seek or require permission to import garbage” for any facility for which they were granted permission.

John Twomey, a resident in Ringaskiddy and honorary treasurer of Shamrocks Hurling and Football Club, called on Indaver Ireland managing director John Ahern to state on the record that it had never offered the club money. It follows a report in the Irish Examiner that Indaver will invest €300,000 annually in the locality. “I’ve been approached and asked, ‘Are you on the take?’” said Mr Twomey.

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