An anti-incinerator group is “worried” and “disappointed” the new government has not yet committed to removing out-of-date incineration from the waste management plan.
The programme for government, partially negotiated by Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Green Party heavy hitters who previously expressed concern about plans to build a controversial €160m incinerator in Ringasiddy, Cork, also omitted mention of any plan to prevent that incinerator from being built.
Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (CHASE) has written to the three party government leaders requesting clarification on their plan for incineration.
“We have to future-proof our economy now,” said Mary O’Leary of CHASE.
“And incineration is out-of-date as a technology. We have signed up to climate change agreements. We need to build a circular economy, one which reuses raw materials not destroys them.
“We’ve written to the three leaders for clarity on this issue and on their waste management strategy.
Our waste management strategy was drawn up 20 years ago and the authorities have largely sat on their hands with it since. It’s not clever.
Ms O’Leary said it was both disappointing and worrying that the Ringaskiddy incinerator and incineration in general were not included in the programme for government.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney and Green Party leader and Minister for Climate Action Eamon Ryan have all previously expressed concern about the plan.
“We were very disappointed that it was not mentioned in the programme for government, not just for Cork but nationally,” Ms O’Leary said.
“As long as incineration is a part of our waste management strategy companies like Invader will try to build incinerators here."
Community organisation CHASE has campaigned against the proposed 240,000 tonne commercial incinerator in Ringaskiddy since 2001, repeatedly blocking plans to begin construction.
Justice David Barniville is currently considering their latest case, heard in the High Court over eight days last year, in which CHASE argued that Board Pleanala acted unlawfully in the way it dealt with Invader’s latest planning application.
Planning for the incinerator was most recently granted in May 2018 against the recommendation of the Board’s Planning Inspector Derek Daly, the third senior Board Inspector to recommend refusal of planning permission since 2004.
“The community has had to fundraise and spend €700k to effectively fight their own government on this for years," Ms O’Leary said. "We don’t want it here or anywhere else.
“Lockdown has brought our health and the importance of the environment to the fore. We’re very lucky that we have places to walk and recreate in Cork Harbour. It’s even more important now that we protect these assets.”