The 50,000 tonnes of waste being exported for incineration is not the result of CHASE’s campaign (Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment) to stop the building of two incinerators in Cork harbour.
Rather, it is due to uncertainty in the direction of waste management policy at Government level. Fine Gael has a “no-incineration policy” in waste management but this needs to be put into effect with the greatest urgency.!
Many leading waste management companies have planning permission to develop Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facilities that will adequately deal with Ireland’s waste in a sustainable manner.
Such facilities will also reduce our energy dependency and are far safer and more suitable to Ireland’s needs. If only 50% of these facilities were built, Ireland would be on target to meet its Landfill Directive Targets in 2016 based on EPA figures.
Many are still on hold, unfortunately, awaiting direction from the Department of the Environment
However one of the unintended consequences of the campaign has been the development of the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC) at Ringaskiddy, in association with the National Maritime College, and directly across the road from the proposed site.
IMERC has the potential to create hundreds of high-end sustainable jobs, building on what is already established in the Maritime College which has approximately 700 students and staff. Such a development is in keeping with all the development plans drawn up for the Cork area by our public representatives on our behalf. Millions of tax-payers’ money has been invested in this project.
According to its website, (imerc.ie), IMERC’s vision is ‘to become a research and commercial cluster of world standing, by realising Ireland’s potential in the global, maritime and energy markets of tomorrow’.
A waste industry that burns toxic waste and a research campus are not compatible.
The location of two incinerators directly across the road from the Campus would not alone be a serious threat to the safety of all those working in the area, (Chief Emergency Planning Officer, An Bord Pleanala Oral Hearing 2009), it would also potentially jeopardise the success of IMERC and threaten inward investment.
An Bord Pleanála have refused planning permission based on solid grounds. They have said the site is not suitable in terms of layout, limited size and physical aspects.
An Bord Pleanála are the prescribed body with the expertise and authority to decide on planning matters.
Communities want what is best for their area. We in Cork Harbour want to support sustainable long-term development which is in keeping with the plans which have been democratically decided between civil society and our public representatives.
A private company with the objective of imposing its will to achieve planning at any cost, should not decide what is best for our community. We have seen what 10 years of developer-led planning did for our economy.!
Let’s hope that the chapter will be closed on this issue and that we can look forward to a brighter future for the Munster region with the success of IMERC and the National Maritime College, delivering this research campus in Ringaskiddy which will be of far greater benefit to our region.
Mary O’ Leary