From top: Last week’s High Court ruling over a proposed €160 million incinerator at Ringaskiddy is the latest twist in a 20-year campaign; Dan Boyle
It has been an interesting seven days. On Friday we learned that the High Court had set aside a planning permission for an incinerator in Ringaskiddy, County Cork.
The Judge accepted as valid grounds that a then member of An Bord Pleanala worked for a company providing advice for the incineration company.
While it may seem obvious that such grounds should invalidate, in Ireland we seem to have clung to the belief that Chinese Walls have protected us from these compromising situations in the past.
A further judgement is awaited as to whether the planning permission should be fully squashed. It’s anticipated that the decision will be re-inserted into process at Bord Pleanala level.
For twenty years those of us living in and around Cork Harbour have lived with this nonsense. Multiple oral hearings on previous planning applications with Bord Pleanala. Waste licence applications with the EPA. Other court hearings for judicial review.
Families have been reared during the time that this campaign has been ongoing. And still the incineration company, with those in state agencies supporting their proposals, persist.
Five days later I am attending a webinar. A representative of the incineration company is making a presentation. He is well versed in greenspeak. Why this isn’t an incineration company at all. This is all about waste to energy.
We should put aside any misgivings we might have about this being a combustive process adding to the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Or that any energy produced by this process, quite expensively, is totally dependent on the constant creation of waste.
This isn’t incineration. This is combined heat and power. This is the circular economy, we are being told.
In the week that we now have a strengthened Climate Action Bill, the biggest challenge that lies ahead is that those who need to change won’t change. Instead they will indulge in greenspeak and engage in green washing.
We can’t afford to wrap the unsustainable in a green cloak. To meet the challenge of reducing our carbon emissions it has to be about changing, much more than adapting.
There will be many who won’t change. Enough of us need to. The argument at least seems at least being won. Changing the culture will prove more difficult.
Pursuing the politics of it may even more difficult. There is a school of thought that the climate emergency is a war where the righteous should overcome the ignorant and the unwilling.
I believe the opposite. We don’t have a hope if we can’t being as wide a cross section of society to along with us on the belief, that unless we can act collectively in understanding the problems we have, and agree the actions needed to overcome them.
It won’t involve everyone but it does need to involve most of us. I’m glad the pre legislative process has brought about a stronger Climate Bill. It came about by involving an entire Oireachtas committee in a way that is sadly rarely seen.
Because of that I’m optimistic that the necessary change can be achieved. There are more than enough issues on which we can and should divide. The Greens on our own supply more than enough divisions on such issues.
On the Climate Change we really can’t afford maintaining the status quo. We really should be promoting a different type of burning desire.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator and serves as a Green Party councillor on Cork City Council. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle