Clash over new FF stance on waste plan
The two main political parties in Co Laois have turned on each other following the decision by Fianna Fail councillors to rescind the council's decision to oppose the Midland Waste Strategy Plan.
At this week's meeting of the council, Fianna Fail voted to reverse the council's rejection of the waste strategy plan by 13 votes to nine and accept it subject to conditions.
The plan provides for streamlining recycling facilities, reducing landfill sites and the provision of what the consultants call a "heat treatment plant" but opponents call an incinerator.
The plan was thrown out by the council at its meeting on October 9th, a decision welcomed by Laois environmental groups.
Fianna Fail's change of mind would do "justice to Olympic gymnasts", according to an angry Charlie Flanagan of Fine Gael following the meeting.
"I cannot understand that less than three months after voting down this plan when we all voiced concerns - and these have not been met - they have all changed their minds.
"We had no additional information to allay our fears about an incinerator being put in here. This was a travesty," said Mr Flanagan.
He said that despite Fianna Fail members' protests that they would never vote for an incinerator in Laois, such a decision might go outside their control.
"We were told that we could only have a plan for the region if all counties agreed to it and there could be no amendments," he said.
John Moloney TD, of Fianna Fail, who tabled the motion to rescind the October rejection of the waste plan, said there was no question of his party doing a U-turn.
"We decided to adopt the regional waste management strategy on foot of a firm commitment that no proposal for either a super-dump landfill or an incinerator could be mooted without the consent of the council.
"We are totally opposed to an incinerator, therefore there can never be consent to it," he said.
While he accepted that all the regional plans provided for an incinerator to be built with recycling and landfill, this did not mean there would be an incinerator in every county.
"If someone in the country or the region suggests that there should be an incinerator built in Co Laois it cannot happen without the consent of the councillors who are opposed to it," he said.
Laois had the best landfill site in the region and the council was not going to hand over that facility which had taken 11 years to build up.
He added that while incineration was part of the plan, it was possible that there would be no incinerator in the midlands. However, if one was proposed for Laois, then it could not happen without the consent of councillors.
The Co Laois Environmental Group said it was amazed at the decision to adopt the plan even with conditions attached. The plan was adopted with a condition that it would have to come back to the council.
While Mr Moloney was opposed to an incinerator in the county, he could not speak for every councillor in the future. Less than three months ago all 25 councillors had thrown out the plan completely.