Poolbeg inquiry is announced


Minister for the Environment John Gormley today announced an independent inquiry would be undertaken in relation to Poolbeg incinerator.

Mr Gormley appointed senior counsel and qualified accountant John Hennessy to carry out an independent report in relation to the various risks and implications of the proposed incinerator to be located on the Poolbeg peninsula.

Mr Hennessy will assess the financial risks should Dublin City Council and the three other Dublin local authorities be unable to meet the volumes of waste committed to in the ‘put-or-pay’ clause of the contract.

Minister Gormley said: “There have been a wide range of claims regarding this project, its financial viability, and the financial consequences of either proceeding with or abandoning it. I believe a proper and full independent examination by a qualified expert is required to bring clarity to these issues.”

Meanwhile, the Irish Waste Management Association (IWMA) has described the latest waste report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) as seriously flawed.

The IWMA said that both the report, titled Further Issues in Municipal Waste Management Policy in Ireland, and its predecessor, An Economic Approach to Waste Management Policy in Ireland, should be withdrawn so that a comprehensive re-examination of all data used, projections made and conclusions drawn can be undertaken.

The association said error, poor judgement and ill-informed prediction characterise both recent ESRI reports on waste management.

Conor Walsh, technical director of SLR Consulting, which produced the IWMA commissioned Dublin Region Thermal Treatment Needs Assessment, said the ESRI is "still continuing to make conclusions regarding waste generation and treatment options which are, quite simply, based on a poor understanding of the waste management sector.

“For example, the ESRI is still ignoring projections regarding waste prevention. The ESRI’s analysis of collection and treatment options for the Dublin Region fails to recognise existing policy on organic waste collection and also fails to recognise any future treatment capacity other than the Poolbeg Incinerator. And, in waste terms, the ESRI data also seems to be predicting a bigger boom from 2012 than during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ of recent years," he added.

The ESRI yesterday defended the report, described by Mr Gormley as deficient, misleading and not based on the facts, and said it was irrelevant whether or not it pleased the Minister.

The ESRI report, commissioned by Dublin City Council, supported the case for the construction of the Poolbeg incinerator. Moreover, it 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 Eunomia review, as “severely flawed”. It noted 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”.