Capacity constraints at An Bord Pleanála which are causing delays in deciding planning appeals and applications have not impacted on the decision to push out, once again, the decision date on plans for a controversial commercial incinerator in Cork Harbour.
A date for today, August 10, had been set for a decision on the controversial application from Indaver Ireland to build a €160m 240,000 tonnes-per-annum waste-to-energy facility at Ringaskiddy.
However, the decision date has now been pushed out to September 12.
It was originally due on July 12 last year but was deferred to October 26, then January 24, and March 22, followed by today and now September 12.
Asked if capacity constraints at the planning authority had impacted the latest deferral, a spokesperson said that was not the case. A public notice on the board’s website notes certain categories of cases, such as strategic infrastructure developments (Indaver application), major housing developments and school projects “will continue to be prioritised for decision”.
The capacity constraints are caused by the formation of a new board. The term of the previous five-member board had expired and while three new board members are in place, two have yet to take up their positions.
Yesterday, CHASE (Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment), the lobby group opposed to the Ringaskiddy incinerator, said they want the full board to consider the Indaver case, even if it means further delays.
“We want the full board to take responsibility for making this decision,” said Chase spokesperson Linda Fitzpatrick.
The most recent delay in making a decision was on foot of the board requesting additional information from Indaver to address Defence Forces’ concerns that the incinerator could interfere with military operations at the Naval Service headquarters on nearby Haulbowline Island. Indaver was also asked to provide clarification in relation to dioxin emission figures.
On May 15, it said it had responded to An Bord Pleanála’s request for further information. Indaver said experts it consulted did not see the incinerator causing problems for helicopters operating at Haulbowline. It blamed dioxin emission errors on a transcription error.
However, Chase has continued to question the veracity of Indaver’s dioxin emission claims and maintains the potential size of the plume the incinerator could produce would present a threat to helicopter safety in the vicinity.
The controversial application was the subject of a 17-day oral hearing in April and May of last year, with more than 220 submissions including objections from all four Cork South Central TDs, including the then Planning Minister Simon Coveney, and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
It is Indaver Ireland’s third application since 2001 to build the incinerator at Ringaskiddy and the project had cost the company €12m prior to last year’s oral hearing. Permission was granted but expired in the first instance and was refused in 2011.Should the project get the go-ahead this time, the decision can only be challenged in the High Court.