John Ahern, regional manager with Indaver for Ireland and the UK, said he believed another incineration facility is likely in his native Limerick at some stage in the future. It was the likelihood of another project there that reaffirmed his conviction that the Ringa-skiddy site was best suited for the waste-to-energy facility in Cork Harbour.
He was speaking at the oral hearing into the proposal, which has prompted huge opposition from local people as well as government ministers, local TDs, the air corps, and the Department of Defence.
One counter-argument put forward by those opposed to the incinerator plan is that the site picked by Indaver is unsuitable and that others should have been considered.
Mr Ahern said that when the incinerator plan was first proposed back in 1999/2000, a number of sites were looked at, including in Charleville and Mallow in North Cork.
He said issues that had ruled out possible alternatives in locations such as Whitegate and Carrigtwohill, such as the presence of pylons or land issues, were “still there” now, while other possible alternatives did not have sufficient road network.
Regarding the Ringaskiddy site, Mr Ahern said: “Unfortunately for all the people there it was a good site, it was always a better site”.
He said the incinerator proposed for Ringaskiddy was never outlined as being a national facility but rather would be to meet the waste needs of a part of the county that had the second largest concentration of population outside Dublin, which was already being served by Poolbeg and a facility in Meath.
Mr Ahern said someone else had already made a proposal regarding Limerick by the stage Indaver was looking to make a fresh submission. He said: “We believe and I believe myself that there will be a facility in Limerick at some stage.
“The site in Ringaskiddy was the most appropriate one and has got better.
“We believed it was better to stick with sites that had already been identified in the county development plan.”
Dave Coakley of Coakley O’Neill Town Planning Ltd, speaking on behalf of Indaver, has already told the hearing that the company felt the county development plan was “directing us” to the area.
As for a site in Bottlehill, which the hearing was told may also be under consideration as a licensed landfill for bottom ash that might be removed from any incinerator, Mr Ahern said no roads radiated to or from that site whereas they did for Cork City, which allowed access to Ringaskiddy.
He said Ringaskiddy was also unique in terms of being in an area of very high concentration of industry, which would also assist in the provision of district heating.
Sean Cronin of the Zero Waste Alliance group said there was no demonstrable market demand for district heating and the possibility of a “hostile market” locally which mean Indaver may or may not be able to sell that heat.
There were claims from some speakers that Indaver’s proposal for the facility was either incomplete or premature, given the site for destination of bottom ash has not been finalised.
Councillor Marcia D’Alton (Ind) rejected claims by Indaver that there was still a need for a facility with capacity to deal with 300,000 tonnes of waste.
She also rejected assertions from Indaver that the proposed facility is reduced in size from those outlined in previous submissions.
The oral hearing is continuing, with the Department of Defence due to respond to Indaver’s own response to its initial concerns regarding the proposed facility and how it might impinge on its personnel and operations in Cork Harbour.