ESRI report 'a thinly-veiled excuse' for building of Poolbeg incinerator


THE ECONOMIC and Social Research Institute’s (ESRI) waste policy report was a “thinly-veiled excuse” for the construction of the Poolbeg incinerator, author of a report commissioned by Minister for the Environment John Gormley has said.

Dr Dominic Hogg of environmental consultants Eunomia has accused the ESRI of “massaging the numbers” to achieve the results sought by Dublin City Council, which paid for the report.

Dr Hogg was the lead author of the International Review of Waste Management Policy, published last November, which recommends high levies for residual waste treatment facilities like incinerators.

The ESRI report, An Economic Approach to Waste Management Policy in Ireland, published last month, said the levies proposed in the international review were several times too high and that the review was “severely flawed.”

Earlier this week, the institute admitted it had made an error in its report and had underestimated the rate of levies which should be applied to incinerators. However, it refused to withdraw its report and, while it corrected the error, said the central conclusions would remain unchanged.

Dr Hogg yesterday said that the ESRI levies still did not reflect the actual costs in terms of environmental pollution. “ESRI keeps getting the economics wrong, and insists on massaging the numbers. They set out a series of economic principles and then choose to draw on those principles or let them down like a loose pair of underpants.”

The institute had not based its levies on the environmental damage caused by incinerators, which was the international standard used by environmental economists, Dr Hogg said.

“They have chosen selectively their assumptions to ensure that they come out with a conclusion that is one that their clients will have them draw. They were paid to come to a conclusion.”

Although Eunomia was paid by the Department of the Environment for its report, it had criticised a number of Government policies, including ones put in place by Mr Gormley, Dr Hogg said.

The ESRI report was also criticised by Ringsend residents opposed to the incinerator, including the Ringsend, Sandymount and Irishtown Environmental group. “At no time the ESRI come near us or any other locally recognised representatives who could have told them their figures were wrong,” group chairman Damien Cassidy said.