Indaver supplied additional information in response to Defence Forces’ concerns that the incinerator the company is proposing for Ringaskiddy could interfere with military operations at the Naval Service headquarters on nearby Haulbowline Island.
Cllr Marcia D’Alton got standing orders suspended at a Cork County Council meeting and won unanimous support for her motion to write to the planning appeals board demanding that it release the latest Indaver information to third parties.
An Bord Pleanála is currently considering the third planning application for an incinerator on this site by the same applicant in the past 17 years.
Cllr D’Alton said that although some details of the further information have been made public by the applicant, An Bord Pleanála has not made either the further information, or the form in which it was received from the applicant, available to third parties.
“In fact, none of the third parties knew it was available on the applicant’s website until one was told by a member of the media.
“The board of Bord Pleanála has not yet decided whether to give third parties reasonable time or opportunity to comment on that further information. I contacted the offices of the board and was told that the board had not yet made a decision on how to proceed,” she told fellow councillors.
Cllr D’Alton said that during the three years before the current planning application was lodged, the applicant met with Bord Pleanála officials on nine separate occasions to discuss the pending planning application.
“Also during this time, the applicant engaged teams of experts in a range of fields to prepare the planning application,” said Cllr D’Aton.
“But when the planning application was lodged, the public was given only six weeks within which to assess the documentation, which contained 2,490 pages of technical information and 263 drawings.”
She added that before the latest oral hearing was called third parties received 18 days’ notice of it: “It ran for 17 days over weeks with third parties forfeiting annual holidays and abandoning their day jobs to attend. The subsequent inspector’s report was waited on for almost a year. After it was received, the board requested further information from the applicant.”
She said Bord Pleanála must make the further information available and give third parties ample time to comment on it.
Cllr Anthony Barry described Bord Pleanála “as a law unto itself”.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Seamus McGrath maintained there is not “a level playing field” between Indaver and objectors.
“It is only right and proper that the community be given the opportunity to respond to this (further information),” he added.
The company announced in a press release on May 15 that it has responded to An Bord Pleanála’s request for further information.
Indaver said experts it had consulted did not see the incinerator causing problems for helicopters operating at Haulbowline.
Health and environmental concerns and not selfish “nimbyism” [not in my back yard] are the prime drivers of our opposition to siting windfarms, biomass plants and underground power lines near our homes,
Research conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) did not find any evidence that reluctance to have energy infrastructure developed close to our homes is driven by “a selfish nimby motivation”.
Instead, “concerns regarding health and local environmental impacts take precedence”, the researchers say.
A paper titled Irish Residents’ Views of Energy-Related Technologies said that while people “generally hold positive opinions of electricity generation from renewable sources, there remains a significant degree of local opposition when it comes to infrastructure-siting decisions”.
This could lead to “project delays, unhappy citizens, and frustrated investors and policymakers”.
Moreover, delays could have a financial impact with fines imposed when targets are missed, as well as reputational damage and environmental consequences.
The researchers found residents are “generally positively disposed towards renewable generation technologies”.
However, when it came to expansion of the transmission grid necessary to bring renewable generation online, there is significantly less support for expansion of the grid above ground compared to putting wires underground.