ESRI likely to defend report on incinerator


THE ECONOMIC and Social Research Institute (ESRI) is today expected to stand over its report which supports Dublin City Council's case for the construction of the Poolbeg incinerator.

The ESRI last month undertook to re-examine the report following claims by Minister for the Environment John Gormley that it contained a number of serious errors.

The report, commissioned by the city council, found Mr Gormley's policies aimed at diverting waste from incineration had "no underlying rationale" and were likely to impose "needless costs on the economy".

It criticised the International Review of Waste Management Policy, commissioned by Mr Gormley from environmental consultants Eunomia, as "severely flawed". It said the review must be "considered a failure" in terms of "setting residual waste levies, per capita targets for reduction in residual waste and guidance on the appropriate mix of waste technologies".

In the days following the publication of the report Mr Gormley made a number of highly critical statements about the report and the organisation itself. The ESRI had allowed themselves to be "used" by the city council to undermine the international review which had recommended alternatives to large scale incineration. The ESRI had departed from its normal standards, he said.

The report contained a number of factual errors he said, including a presumption that the emissions from the Poolbeg incinerator would be covered by the the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Dr Dominic Hogg lead author of Eunomia's review would be writing to the ESRI to outline these errors, Mr Gormley said.

The ESRI subsequently acknowledged the error in relation to the ETS, and said it would await Dr Hogg's letter before responding in full. Having received the letter just last week, the ESRI is today expected to stand over its report and refuse to withdraw it.

An amendment to the report, reflecting the actual position in relation to ETS, is likely, but it is understood the ESRI will say that this will not affect the report's principal conclusions.

Writing to the ESRI last week, Dr Hogg said the report was "error strewn" and that it would not be possible to sustain its original conclusions once the errors were acknowledged.

". . . we have rarely, if ever, found our work criticised by such an error-strewn report. This was made the more surprising by the self-confident language with which the flawed criticism was made," the letter said.

Dr Hogg said his letter did not represent a "full" review of the report and that "we have by no means highlighted all errors in the report". He said his response to the ESRI report had not been supported financially by any party.