A mothballed super-dump, which cost €48m to develop, may become the first site in Co Cork to recycle construction and demolition waste.
At present, construction companies have no such site in the biggest county in Ireland and are forced to take waste to an Environmental Protection Agency — licensed site in Waterford.
The county council planned to open the super-dump at Bottlehill, 23kms north of Cork city, 10 years ago, but it was considered to be uneconomic at the time because other landfills in the Munster area were undercutting it on disposal charges.
A meeting in County Hall heard a number of councillors call on senior officials to open part of the Bottlehill site for C&D (construction and demolition) waste.
Fine Gael councillor Kevin Murphy said it was “absolutely appalling” that construction companies from West Cork were forced to travel a very long distance to dispose of their waste in Waterford.
He said this made "absolutely no sense" as it was costing construction companies huge money, was leading to far more heavy truck movements on roads and increasing the carbon footprint.
He said he and other members of the council's Environment SPC had discussed the issue and were in favour of using the Bottlehill site for C&D waste recycling.
“We could bring in crushers there and use the material for the bases of roads,” he said.
“We've failed so far in the last 10 years to get anything into Bottlehill, so we could do this.” Fine Gael councillor Aidan Lombard supported him and pointed out that the base of an extension to the runway in Dublin Airport was constructed with crushed C&D waste.
“Drawing such waste all the way down to Waterford doesn't make any sense to me,” Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O'Flynn said.
Fine Gael councillor Michael Hegarty agreed, saying it was “crazy” no site existed in Cork to dispose of such material and that was therefore adding to construction costs.
County council chief executive Tim Lucey said he would look at their request and then added that the local authority needs to start reviewing its entire waste management strategy and this should be done in the next 12 – 18 months.
He pointed out that the council, which is facing a budget deficit of €19m for next year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, was losing around €3m a year on running its major recycling centres, known as Civic Amenity Sites.
Privately several councillors are saying they believe the council has no choice but to increase fees for some services at these sites, or reduce their opening hours.
However, they are also conscious that too much of an increase in charges could lead to further illegal dumping.