Cork council rejects waste incinerator

Planning permission for the country's first toxic-waste incinerator was rejected by Cork County Council yesterday, when a majority…

Planning permission for the country's first toxic-waste incinerator was rejected by Cork County Council yesterday, when a majority of its members voted against a proposed facility at Ringaskiddy.

Among the many reasons cited for the rejection was that the development of a national maritime college at Haulbowline might not happen if the incinerator went ahead.

After nearly 90 minutes of vigorous debate, the motion to give Indaver Ireland permission for a €93 million facility on a 30-acre site - it would handle 100,000 tonnes of waste per year - was voted down by 30 votes to 13, with two abstentions.

A large crowd of objectors lined the entrance to County Hall yesterday morning, where they urged members of the council to protect them from the perceived evils of an incineration plant.


"God creates, the devil incinerates" was the message on one placard that signalled the sentiments of Ringaskiddy residents.

At the meeting the county manager, Mr Maurice Moloney, outlined the circumstances of the vote and stressed that members could only vote on the issues of planning.

"All indications are that there is no reason why this application should not be approved, and the issues of health and the environment are for another body to decide. The application before you can only be refused on the grounds that it does not comply with the County Development Plan, which we adopted earlier this year," said Mr Moloney.

"An incinerator has already been given permission nationally, and if rejected here today the matter will go to An Bord Pleanála, which will have the same factors before it as you do.

"But it will not have to deal with the zoning issue, and there clearly are straws in the wind that indicate a particular line of action will be taken.

"I don't want to impose any more on the people of Ringaskiddy than they have already, but the waste is being created there, and I think it's better if members today take this opportunity to take control rather than passing it over to someone else."

Of the many members to voice their opinion on the matter before, only four said they were in favour of allowing the incinerator to go ahead.

One of those, Cllr Vivien Callaghan (FF), argued that it was now a case of the council's "chickens coming home to roost".

"The reality is that we backed the development of many industrial complexes in the harbour area, which now employ in the region of 3,500 people.

"This year over half of all investment in this State will be in the pharmaceutical sector. We need to compete in this sector, and this incinerator is a fact of life.

"The stark reality is that this is the downside of progress. If not in the Ringaskiddy area, then it would be somewhere else."

However, most speakers insisted that the factors taken into consideration suggested planning permission be refused.

"I accept that Indaver are a bona-fide company, but I am beginning to wonder what part of 'enough' is not clear to the county manager," said Cllr Deirdre Forde (FF).

She was supported by Mr Batt O'Keeffe (FF), Mr Noel Collins (Ind) and Mr Peter Kelly (FG).

Responding to yesterday's vote, Indaver Ireland said the result was not unexpected, adding that it was delighted to receive the support of 30 per cent of the councillors.

"We have always been aware that appeals to An Bord Pleanála would be likely before planning permission could be granted for our project.

"We are glad that the project is now moving on to the next stage of the planning process," said a spokeswoman for Indaver Ireland, Ms Laura Burke.

"In general, support for the project is growing as people are becoming more aware of Ireland's waste problem.

"I believe at this stage many people feel that this project is urgent and necessary, and that we cannot continue depending on other countries to solve our waste problems," Ms Burke said.