Kilcock Incinerator Decision


Sir, - In your editorial (March 13th), you suggested that An Bord Pleanala's decision to refuse Thermal Waste Management planning permission for a toxic waste incinerator in Kilcock had "nothing to do with the unique band of opponents" who protested so successfully against the project. Planning permission would have been refused in any case, the editorial claims, because of flaws in the proposal, including the failure to consider World Health Organisation guidelines on the siting of incinerators.

Is there perhaps a gap in the argument here? TWM claimed all along that their proposal conformed to existing guidelines. It was the North Kildare and South Meath Alliance Against Incineration who drew the Board's attention to the WHO principle that community consent must form a part of the site selection process. Equally, it was the Alliance and its supporters who demonstrated that the Kilcock incinerator plan was flawed in terms of scale, zoning, traffic planning and other issues. Had the matter proceeded to the Environmental Protection Agency, where health hazards from the plant would have been considered, we were prepared to show that there were contradictions in TWM's own figures on arsenic emissions.

It is also worth noting that the Alliance has lodged a complaint with the European Commission over the Irish Government's continued failure to implement the Seveso II directive, which should have been part of Irish law since February 3, 1999. Article 12 of the Seveso II directive requires that suitable distances be kept between residential areas and "top tier" facilities like hazardous waste incinerators.

In short, the Kilcock incinerator was refused planning permission because of informed opposition at a grassroots level. In Kilcock, and in other communities around the country, local people - from stud farm owners to school children - have overtaken those policy-makers who still insist that incineration is a "modern" technology. For almost a year now, we have been pointing out the absence of siting guidelines, and drawing attention to viable alternatives to incineration. Now we are challenging the Government to listen to the voices of informed dissent, and do something really brave and imaginative by considering the example of Australia, which is the most recent nation to decide that truly developed societies do not need incinerators. - Yours, etc., Dr Chris Morash,

North Kildare and South Meath Alliance Against Incineration (Ltd), Kilcock, Co Kildare.