23 May

Big burners – application is back for Ringaskiddy Incinerator


Ringaskiddy Incinerator Proposal – wrong place, wrong time, wrong solution.

There’s more than a whiff of toxic smoke from this project –

( Application to An Bord Pleanála by Indaver Ireland Limited for Planning Permission for a
Proposed  Incinerator at Ringaskiddy, County Cork An Bord Pleanála Reference PL04.PA0045) –

and the arrogance exhibited by both an Bord Pleanala, the EPA and the Co Co Council Executive Management.

Whiff of  suspicious smoke.

Firstly An Bord Pleanála refused to defer an oral hearing into a proposed €160 million (240,000 tonne  Hazardous and municipal waste) incinerator for Ringaskiddy, Cork Harbour which was needed to allow the opponents time to examine the large application and associated documents.

One of the 260 objectors, Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (Chase) said Bord Pleanála had refused an extension to the oral hearing start date , leaving just 12 working days to prepare objecions against the proposed Ringaskiddy Incinerator.

This preparation period of just 12 working days was in stark contrast with the consultation period of over 3½ years which the applicant, Indaver,  have had with An Bord Pleanála to prepare this third planning application on the same site.

This must be the  shortest oral hearing notice and the longest consultation period on record for such a dangerous proposal.

Secondly, the haste at which the Ringaskiddy proposed Incinerator proceedings were transacted gave rise to concerns among the attendees that this might be a ‘foregone conclusion’ and the Board was merely paying lip service to the oral hearing and inspectors efforts to examine the proposal’s implications. A notable absentee was the EPA, normally a essential player in such applications.


Overwhelming support for opponents.

An Bord Pleanála received over 260 submissions objecting to the planned Ringaskiddy incinerator including objections from all four Cork South Central TDs including Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, andFianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin.

These submissions, among which Zero Waste Alliance Ireland, contributed a 28 page objection,  included objections because of site unsuitability, accident risk and hazard, health concerns and gross conflict with the regeneration of the surrounding area, include submissions from the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORA) which represents 800 sailors based at nearby Haulbowline Naval Base. No project is in such direct conflict with the Circular Economy policy direction as this proposal, whih will be dependent on rising levels of waste generation to remain viable for a projected 30 year lifspan.

They also include submissions from CIT Students’ Union president on behalf of students attending the National Maritime College of Ireland , the Air Corps and submissions from the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) representing lecturers at the college.

Over 113 oral  presentations were contributed at the oral Hearing held in the Carrigaline Cour Hotel,  Co Cork which ended on  10th May 2016 after  4 weeks.

EU Complain looming.

A notable EIS omission during the hearing, in conflict with Art 5 of Stockholm Convention,  was pointed out by ZWAI in their closing statement, opening  the path to register a complaint to the compliance committee.

A decision is expected by the Board of An Bord Pleanala by mid July 2016.

12 May

Going on a Holiday to Majorca? Bring along your waste.

son-reus-wteIt now looks like Irish people might be able to bring their waste to Majorca when heading there on holiday. If they can’t do so directly, then a project proposed currently will do it for them indirectly, via waste exports from Derry. But don’t stuff rubbish in your rucksack just yet.  Reason may yet prevail.

From Bundoran to Bunyola, waste in haste.

Nestled on the North west coast of  Majorca, in the spurs of the Serra de Tramuntana, just 9 miles from Majorca’s Capital, Palma , lies the picturesque town of Bunyola.  It’s just 2,572 km from Bundoran, but unlike Bundoran its 5,475 inhabitants (double that of Bundoran)  have a serious concern.  They live near a large Incinerator that is operating below full capacity (like many others in Europe). But proposals currently before the Governing Council of Majorca will allow  the import of residual Irish waste for burning.  Problem solved you might think. They get money, we get rid of rubbish cheaply.

Maybe we’ve missed a vital piece of logic in the rationale used. For an island that survives on tourism  and that expounds the concept of clean open spaces, mountains, rural pursuits, crystal clear sea and bright sunshine it seems somewhat idiotic  to invite thousands of tons of residual rubbish along with holidaymakers every year. We certainly wouldent allow this to happen to our Green island. Would we?

Licence to burn in Majorca.

When the Son Reus burner was originally built  in 1992, near Bunyola, it handled 300,000 tons of waste. But guess what? Just like our own Carrinstown Indaver burner, its capacity was increased to 432,000 and then in 2011 to 736,000 tons. But why?  Since this is more waste than Majorca produces (Majorca creates about 540,000 tons of waste annually). Sounds familiar ? Sounds a bit like Poolbeg rationale?

Another similarity relates to the longevity of the licence granted to Tirme , the operator. It has a licence to waste treatment in Mallorca until 2041.

So in order to feed the capacity shortfall of the Incinerator waste must now be imported in increasing quantities for the next 27 years to match any drop in local Majorcan waste generation.

Ironically Bunyola,  has been a trailblazer for recycling waste and its local council is naturally indignant that piles of rubbish (ash) will in effect be dumped at its back door and pollute its air. The cruel outcome of increasing Eco awareness in Majorca , leading to less residual waste , means more rubbish imports will be needed to feed the burner. So there is no commercial reward for the Majorcan population to become greener!

When Irish eyes are smiling….something’s burning.

The reason why Irish waste could be exported to Mallorca is probably because the north west region is faced with a deficiency in waste management infrastructure and the Son Reus Incinerator needs more waste to fully utilise the burning capacity. (they previously tried to import Italian waste, unsuccessfully). So there is a commercial fit for these two needs  to meet.  We don’t need to invest in infrastructure and they fill a revenue gap.

Bunyola – A long way from Clare to here.

But do we know where the Irish waste will be generated — in Derry ?  Donegal ? Belfast ?  Clare? perhaps Dublin? In fact, it could come from any part of the country, transported quietly by truck to the Port of Derry, and loaded on a ship.  Derry Harbour Commissioners might be delighted of course, as the exports will increase tonnage throughput at one of Ireland’s smaller ports !
We all know that the waste industry is driven by the need to reduce costs at every stage, and one of the reasons why waste might be exported from Ireland to Mallorca is undoubtedly because it is cost effective. The landfill levy in the Republic has been steadily increased in Ireland (from €30/tonne to €50/tonne in 2011 to €65/tonne in 2012 and €75/tonne in 2013). This creates an opportunity for Irish waste exporters or brokers if they can find cheaper options.

The Zero Option.

Of course ,if we reduce our own waste in the first instance and use the latest Zero Waste technologies here there would be no waste to export. The local treatment of waste resources would provide new jobs here and help develop our own remanufacturing, re-cycling and re-use industries. This would keep money at home and put more of it (money not waste)  in people’s pockets (which they might spend on a  holiday to , well…Majorca?).

And if there was no waste to burn the Son Reus plant  might have to close down. Oops, that’s bad news for Tirme’s cashflow  – they’re expecting bumber revenues till 2041 remember- but great news for Majorca’s tourists and its hospitality industry and those 5,475 Eco aware Spaniards in Bunyola. Ole!

SangriaOnBeachSangria and soot?

So next time you’re lying on a sunny Santa Ponsa beach , pay attention to the wind direction. You might just get a whiff of your own waste, that’s followed you like a dog turd stuck to your sandals.

Discreetly check for traces of Soot in your Sangria as the turgid smoke wafts out in the night sky from the incinerator smoke stacks in the distance.

Cheers and …..Bon voyage !