Coveney rejects national security objections to proposed Cork incinerator

Indaver scheme will endanger Haulbowline naval operations, say opponents

Cork incinerator objectors: Chase supporters outside Bord Pleanála’s 2016 hearing. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Cork incinerator objectors: Chase supporters outside Bord Pleanála’s 2016 hearing. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has played down the possibility of the Government invoking new planning legislation to stop a €160 million incinerator going ahead in Cork Harbour.

Opponents of the proposed incinerator, planned by Indaver for Ringaskiddy, have called on the Government to use laws enacted last week which allow the Minster for Defence to intervene in planning issues when they affect national security or defence. Opponents believe the incinerator poses a serious risk to the health of personnel serving at the nearby Haulbowline naval base.

However, speaking on Monday, Mr Coveney said opponents should focus on taking a judicial review of the decision to grant planning for the project.

The campaign group Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (Chase) said the new Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016, which passed through the Dáil last week, gives particular powers to the Minister for Defence to revoke planning permissions in certain situations.

Mary O’Leary of Chase said the legislation would, when enacted, allow the Minister for Defence to revoke planning permission if the project is “likely to be harmful to the security or defence of the State” or if it is “likely to be harmful to the State’s relations with other states”.

Ms O’Leary said the department had highlighted concerns at the Bord Pleanála oral hearing in 2016 about the impact the incinerator at Ringaskiddy would have on naval operations at Haulbowline.

The principal officer at the Department of Defence at the time, Fred Bradley, told the hearing, “restrictions on the Irish Air Corps’ ability to operate with the Naval Service at Haulbowline was not just a local issue but carried strategic implications for the State.”

“Dioxins and PCBs”

The Green Party’s representative for Cork South-Central, Lorna Bogue, called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to revoke planning permission for the scheme.

“The incinerator exposes the naval base to dioxins and PCBs, which over time are carcinogenic. The incinerator is placed at the only exit from the naval base and can therefore be targeted, and the incinerator stack impacts on helicopter landings on the base,” she said. “There is no question that this planned incinerator is a threat to the security of the State and therefore planning permission under this provision must be revoked.”

But Mr Coveney, who gave evidence at the oral hearing opposing the incinerator, said he thought it was “very unlikely” the legislation could be invoked to stop the Indaver project.

“I think that would need to be on the back of quite significant advice from either the Defence Forces or An Garda Síochána that there really was an issue of national security, and I suspect the bar would be very high for that.”