CHASE say they need to raise between €150,000 and €200,000 if they are to have any chance mounting a judicial review of yesterday’s decision by An Bórd Pleanáa to grant planning permission for a €160m waste-to-energy incinerator on a 13-hectare site in Ringaskiddy.
“We have a very short time to raise this money before we can go forward and take the decision to the High Court,” the group said last night.
“This is a very expensive business, and all money raised will go towards this. We estimate the cost of this to be in the region of €150,000 to €200,000.
“The people of Cork Harbour, and the wider Cork area have already spent hundreds of thousands of euro fighting this for the past 18 years, and we sincerely hope the people will come up trumps again, and enable us to continue to fight for a safe, clean Cork Harbour, without a toxic incinerator in the middle of it.”
Since the first planning application was lodged for the facility on the site in 2001, CHASE has taken on Indaver through the State’s complex, expensive and exhausting planning and judicial processes.
The group was recognised by the board yesterday for exposing discrepancies in Indaver’s dioxin figures on the last day of the 2016 oral hearing despite the company having three years of pre-planning talks with An Bórd Pleanála as part of the fast-track Strategic Infrastructure (SI) process.
But the decision yesterday drew cross-party criticism from political leaders, including Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, in whose constituency this battle is being played out.
It has also angered local residents who feel that after decades of industrialisation in the lower harbour, the tide had turned and that the area’s green-energy, tourism, and heritage potential was going to be exploited for the next 30-years.
The State has pumped up to €100m into the development of a third-level national maritime college in Ringaskiddy, with a cluster of linked green-energy research projects on a nearby campus.
It has pledged €70m to clean up the former Irish Steel site on Haulbowline Island, which will include the development of a public park, and it has spent millions more developing the harbour’s tourism assets including Cobh’s cruise liner facilities and the Spike Island experience, recently named one of Europe’s top visitor attractions.
As well as apparently flying in the face of that trend, CHASE said yesterday’s decision has also raised questions about the openness and transparency of the SI process.
Apart from this latest legal battle, the group has lodged a complaint against Ireland to the European Parliament Committee on Petitions in relation to the SI process.
Among the issues in its complaint are concerns about the extensive pre- consultation period afforded by Bórd Pleanála to Indaver and the exclusion of the public from this process; the costs to opponents of oral hearings and High Court reviews; the fact that local communities have just weeks to analyse and prepare material and organise funds; and the Government’s plan to reduce the judicial review time limits from eight to four weeks in a bid to speed up decision-making and restrict court challenges to major building projects.
CHASE has participated in two prior complaints to the EU — one lodged in 2008 in relation to the East Tip on Haulbowline and one in 2010 in relation to Ireland’s failure to properly implement the EIA directive by splitting functions between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Bord Pleanála — both of which were upheld.