The Politics of Poolbeg Waste-To-Energy

Stephen Collins has a well-assembled article in the Irish Times today on the potential conflict of interest for John Gormley in his handling of the foreshore licence for the Poolbeg W2E plant:

I take a particular interest in this topic as chair of the City Council Strategic Policy Committee on the Environment.  Having read the ESRI report cover-to-cover and also questioned City Management on the issue I support incineration as a necessary waste processing method for Dublin because:

  • It is only on the day that Poolbeg opens that Dublin will comply (ahead of any other region in Ireland) with the EU Landfill Directive; there is no other realistic or practical way of doing this in time
  • From mid 2011 onwards there is likely to be no landfill capacity left within the Dublin region; in the absence of a W2E facility this will mean that waste will have to be landfilled outside Dublin at an estimated annual cost of €45m per annum – to be paid for by you and me…
  • The facility will provide heating for 50,000 homes and electricity for 60,000 homes – by-products of the waste treatment process; thats €24m worth of electricity per annum

The only alternative the Minister seems to be putting forward is MBT (mechanical biological treatment) however given the fact that we have a brown-bin rollout well under way in the Dublin region this is in my view irrelevant as organic biodegradable material is now being separated at source.

So the longer we hang about on this issue the greater the bill the average Dubliner will foot – that bill being a combination of (a) paying to move the waste out of Dublin to landfill and (b) paying penalties to the EU for failing to comply with the Landfill Directive.

So the questions for the Minister are:

  • Who requested the transfer of responsibility for the issuing of foreshore licenses from the Dept. of Agriculture to the Dept. of the Environment early this year and what was the rationale for the transfer?
  • Why the delay in the issuing of the licence? In the absence of movement on this issue City Council will have to pursue other routes in order to meet its responsibilities to its citizens
  • What practical alternative does he propose to Poolbeg W2E?

Its time to for Gormley to put the interests of our City before those of his own political backyard.