Poolbeg incinerator may serve nine counties

Household waste from 12 local authority areas could be taken to southeast Dublin

A computer enhanced image of the Poolbeg incinerator

A computer enhanced image of the Poolbeg incinerator


Waste from households in 12 local authority areas could be taken to the Poolbeg incinerator in southeast Dublin, under the new regional waste management plan due to come into force next year. Dublin was previously a standalone waste region.

Under the new plan, it will be part of the eastern-midlands region which includes Longford, Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Louth, Meath, Wicklow and Westmeath, as well as the four Dublin local authorities.

Opponents of the 600,000-tonne capacity Poolbeg incinerator had claimed the facility would be operating in breach of its 2007 planning permission because it would have to source waste from outside its region as defined by the national waste management plans. However, the facility will now be located in a newly enlarged region, giving it an expanded area from which to gather waste.

Contractors engaged by Covanta, the New Jersey-based waste firm building and running the plant, started construction last month and the incinerator is expected to begin operations in 2017. Once it is up and running, nine lorries an hour will be delivering waste to the plant – 121 lorries a day.

Dublin City Council said the number of lorries visiting the plant was based on the volume of waste that could be taken and not the areas where the waste was being produced.

Private waste-collection companies will be under no obligation to bring waste to the Poolbeg incinerator. However, the Government plans to eliminate landfill use by 2020 limiting the options for disposal within the State.

Already 400,000 tonnes of waste is exported annually for incineration. The council said it had received “letters of support” for the facility from “the largest waste operators in the Dublin region”.

Separately, the council has appointed new consultants to replace RPS, the company which was paid more than €32 million to advise on the development of the incinerator. The council had to terminate its contract with RPS, which also provided consultancy services to Irish Water, after the European Commission found the contract did not conform with EU law.

The council has given the consultancy job to US-based company CDM Smith. The firm has been appointed on a lump sum fee of €2.13 million for the 49-month construction and commissioning period of the plant.

The project has hit numerous financial, legal and political obstacles in the past seven years but cleared its final hurdle in September when it received a value for money certificate from the National Development Finance Agency.

Contracts were subsequently signed with Covanta by the Dublin city manager Owen Keegan, despite opposition from a majority of city councillors. Covanta is to spend €500 million developing the plant.

Some €100 million has already been spent by the Dublin local authorities on the project, including €32 million for consultants and €52 million for the site on the Poolbeg peninsula, now worth an estimated €6 million.