CONSTRUCTION OF the Poolbeg incinerator is set to restart by the end of April, Dublin city manager John Tierney has said. It is almost one year since work on the facility was stopped.
However, legislation setting levies on incineration, which could threaten the viability of the plant, is planned for publication before the Dáil returns, according to sources in the Department of the Environment.
The council will begin working with Covanta, the developers of the plant, in the coming weeks towards restarting the project, Mr Tierney said, following the removal of the last legal barrier to its development just days before Christmas.
The final date for objectors to the incinerator to seek a judicial review of An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant permission to Dublin City Council to compulsorily purchase land required for the facility expired on December 22nd. No application for a review was lodged.
Although the council has had planning permission for the incinerator for three years, it had to apply to An Bord Pleanála last August for permission to compulsorily acquire land it needed for a water-cooling facility for the plant.
The council had not included this element of the project in its original application as it had expected to receive a foreshore licence from the Department of Agriculture for the water-cooling facility. However, responsibility for foreshore licences was transferred to the Department of the Environment last January and the application has yet to be processed.
“We’re going to be working with Covanta early in the new year in order to get the project back up and going,” Mr Tierney said. “From my point of view, I would be hopeful that it would commence before the end of April.”
Covanta is no longer under a legal obligation to build the plant because the foreshore licence was not granted by last September, as set out in the terms of the contract with the council. However, Mr Tierney said he believed Covanta was committed to the project. “We can’t force Covanta to start, but they have confirmed as recently as last month that they are committed and want to build the Poolbeg project.”
Mr Tierney said this commitment came with the proviso that new waste levies were not introduced which would make the plant unviable.
It is understood that new legislation, which would allow for a levy on incineration of up to €120 a tonne, will be in place within weeks.
Mr Tierney said no final decision on levies had been made by Government and that Mr Gormley was out of step with other Green parties in Europe in relation to incineration. In a recent position paper put forward by Alliance 90/Greens, the German Green Party supported incineration over mechanical biological treatment (MBT), Mr Gormley’s favoured form of waste treatment, Mr Tierney said.
The paper by Dr Michael Weltzin, scientific assistant to the party, said MBT had been supported by the Greens “in the early days”, but was now seen only as an intermediate solution.