Dan Boyle: It Takes Incineration To Raze A Village


From top: protests in Carragiline, County Cork ahead of oral hearings into the proposed incinerator in 2016; Dan Boyle

Recently the twelfth deferral of a decision took place, on whether Bord Pleanala would make public its decision on whether or not it would approve its decision to grant permission for a toxic waste incinerator for Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour.

That deferral happened on May 25, the day of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment to The Constitution. In PR terms it was a clear attempt to present bad news when thoughts were elsewhere.

There wasn’t too long to wait for the next possible opportunity, the Thursday before the bank holiday weekend. It was the expected bad news.

The reason for the previous 11 deferments, in the 27 months since the holding of a public oral hearing, being the inability of Bord Pleanala to spin its decision on planning grounds.

In the 18 years since this proposal was first mooted, this was the fourth planning process. The previous three applications also resulted in public oral hearings. A fifth oral hearing took place over the question of granting an EPA pollution licence, which illogically but unsurprisingly was heard first.

In the three of the four planning oral hearings, the appointed planning inspector recommended that the application be refused.

There are, and always have been strong planning grounds, to refuse this application. The proposed site is subject to both flooding and coastal erosion. At the most recent hearing the Defence Forces argued that the plumes from the incinerators would impact on the navigation of helicopters in and out of Haulbowline Naval Base.

The other telling feature of the most recent oral hearing was the proposing applicant, Indaver, being called out by the planning inspector for having presented falsified figures.

The successive public hearings have shown that is not even a pretense that consultation on the issue of planning exists. Bord Pleanala is now not pretending it is deciding on planning grounds. The reasons it gave for its decision was EU and Irish government ‘policy’.

Mention of EU policy is overblown. Incineration, even under its pseudonyms of ‘thermal treatment’ and ‘waste to energy’, is well down the pecking order in terms of the EU Waste Directive. It is seen as a diminishing and inefficient technology, one of the most expensive and dirty means of producing energy.

What Bord Pleanala is really saying with this decision is that incineration is Irish government policy.

When the Tánaiste, and local TD, Simon Coveney, says he is disappointed in this decision he is the person who is best positioned to do something about this.

He could start by re-introducing an incineration levy, designed to measure the true environmental cost of incineration co-inciding with an existing landfill levy. The emphasis in waste policy must be in reducing the creation of unnecessary waste, while also promoting the greatest possible take up of Recycling. Incineration discourages both.

Opposition to this facility is as far from NIMBY as it is possible to be. For almost half a century the village of Ringaskiddy has been an industrial sacrifice area.

The community has already taken on more than its fair share. It should not have to take a puff of smoke more.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Top pic: Mother Jones Cork

13 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: It Takes Incineration To Raze A Village

  1. Baz

    get off the stage Dan

    Green Party were in power and John Gormley was minister for the environment when permission was granted for and work commenced on an incinerator in Duleek Co Meath

    1. Dan Boyle

      Carranstown was granted permission in 2001. Poolbeg received a go ahead while we were in government. You would be aware that the Minister for the Environment cannot intervene in the planning process. Despite that we made several to challenge and stymie its development, including placing an incineration levy in draft legislation, subsequently removed by Phil Hogan.

  2. A person

    I generally admire yours articles, but can you define why you are so opposed to incineration and suggest alternative – this is the issue with I have with the Green Party. Say no, but suggest viable alternative. The Meath plant has being operating for a number of years now without the doomsday scenario suggested by the objectors. Surely this is much better than land fill?

    1. Ger Nalist


      Also, how come Green parties around Europe have no problem with incineration?
      Of course the Green Party in Ireland only seems to have a problem with ones in their constituencies – hence Gormley’s failed effort to stop the incinerator in Poolbeg

    2. Dan Boyle

      The alternative is a comprehensive waste policy that places greater emphasis in ensuring that less and less waste is created. Incineration depends on the creation of new waste streams to justify itself economically. Incineration does not eliminate the need for landfill. At best it condenses waste into a more toxic form that still needs to be landfilled.

    1. trev

      Got a bit like Dublin the driving force of the Irish economy as we culchies live off them

  3. Jody Howard

    Bisted, Cork Harbour is a Cancer Hot Spot due to radioactive waste on Haulbowline from the Irish steel days. An Asbestos dump was forced on us in the 80’s which was removed a number of years ago at great expense to the tax payer because it was on IDA controlled land. We already have a number of incinerators in the residant Pharma plants and on top of that they want a toxic incinerator in our back yard. Let me remind you that this has been refused three times already and this time it was granted against the recommendations of their own inspector, so lay off on the whole parish pump nonsense. Someone commented recently that in Sydney Harbour they built a beuatiful opera house but in our beautiful harbour they want us to accept a toxic incinertor!

  4. Cu Cullan

    Dan, could you spell out in headline points the principal reasons why incineration, such as Poolbeg and Ringaskiddy is such bad news.

  5. Dinny Do Well?

    In fairness, you don’t need an incinerator- you can burn a copy of Village with a lighter.

  6. trev

    Apparently if a fire breaks out many industrial units will be cut off
    Not a particular smart move but hey we are in Ireland
    Another great move is a plastics factory in skibbereen that is being forced in for a American company Daly plastics
    Just think what damage to the beautiful wild Atlantic way if a fire breaks out and considering the local fire brigade have no resources to respond to a major chemical toxic fire
    But think of the jobs lads all twenty of them and our countries rural beauty which is under threat from Ruhr valley heavy industrial industries just as Europe is beginning to clamp down on plastics and pollution caused by plastics

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