Poolbeg incinerator work set to restart

 

CONSTRUCTION OF the controversial Poolbeg incinerator could restart within months following the decision of An Bord Pleanála to grant permission to Dublin City Council to compulsorily purchase land required for the facility.

An Bord Pleanála will this week write to the council to say that it does not intend to hold public hearings on the application to acquire 65 plots of land along the coastline.

The letter will give the council the authority to confirm its compulsory purchase order (CPO) for the land.

The decision means the council will no longer need a foreshore licence from Minister for the Environment John Gormley to develop a water-cooling facility for the development, which was the last barrier to the construction of the 600,000 tonne capacity incinerator.

Construction of the incinerator began last December but has been suspended since May because, developers Covanta said, of the lack of a foreshore licence which had been applied for in August 2008.

Mr Gormley has previously said that he is not delaying making a decision on the licence, as responsibility for foreshore licences was only transferred to his department last January.

By taking ownership of the land, the council would no longer need the licence as it would have automatic access to the river water.

The council applied for the order in the middle of August last following a request by Covanta.

The compulsory purchase order process is often a considerably lengthy one, involving protracted oral hearings.

However, An Bord Pleanála said they received no valid objections to the order and so there was no requirement for a hearing.

The board did receive objections from residents’ associations and environmental groups to the compulsory purchase of the land but, as these were not “notice parties”, ie owners of the land, it dismissed their appeals.

The owners of the land, a 1.7sq km plot, are the Minister for Finance (on behalf of the State), the Dublin Port Company and the council itself.

The Dublin Port Company said it had no objection to the order as it would have “no impact on the operations of the port”.

Under the CPO process, the council must publish a notice stating that the order has been confirmed after it receives the letter from An Bord Pleanála.

Three weeks after publication, the order becomes operative and negotiations then begin on the level of compensation to be paid to the landowners.

However, there is provision within this timeframe for a judicial review of the CPO decision to be sought.

It is unlikely that any of the three landowners will take this step, as they didn’t object to the order in the first place.

Other parties could seek a review, if they can establish that they have a “substantial interest” in the land.

Legal sources specialising in planning law said that this would be difficult for anyone to establish if they weren’t the owners of the land, particularly if they had already been excluded from the process by An Bord Pleanála.

Damien Cassidy, who is chairman of the Ringsend, Sandymount and Irishtown Environmental Group, was among those whose objections to the order was considered invalid by An Bord Pleanála.

The group had objected on the grounds that the compulsory purchase order lands included part of a public road and footpath.

At the time it submitted the order, the council said that it had no intention of blocking the public right of way.