Wexford incinerator vote puts pressure on other councils

 

Councillors in Kilkenny and Waterford are likely to come under pressure to reverse decisions to support a plan for a waste incinerator in the south-east. Opponents of the proposal hope other councils will revisit the issue following the vote by Wexford County Council on Monday to reject the proposal by 19 votes to one.

Councillors rejected the view of a Swedish expert, Prof Christoffer Rappe, who told them a modern incinerator posed no threat to health. Several members drew attention to an EU study published in October which linked dioxin emissions from incinerators to potential health risks.

The other five local authorities in the region have already approved the incinerator plan, which forms part of the South East Regional Authority's 20-year waste management strategy.

Campaigners against the proposal hope the Wexford decision will force the SERA to come up with a different approach. Alternatively, councillors in other areas may seek to reopen the issue on the basis that their previous stance was contingent on a region-wide approach.

A specific site for the proposed incinerator has not yet been identified. Consultants acting for the SERA recommended that it be placed within an area known as the SKEWWW box, which takes in parts of south Kilkenny, east Waterford and west Wexford.

A French-led consortium, including Iarnrod Eireann and an ESB subsidiary, ESB International, has expressed an interest in siting it at the Great Island power station near the Wexford village of Campile.

Fianna Fail's Lorcan Allen was the only member of Wexford County Council on Monday to oppose a motion by his party colleague, Senator James Walsh, that the SERA strategy, and particularly the proposed incinerator, be rejected.

Mr Allen, who is chairman of the SERA, said councillors who had spoken knew nothing about incinerators except what they had received from campaigners in the post. He wanted a decision delayed until after a planned visit next month by members of the SERA to a number of incinerator sites on the Continent.