Incinerator plans in trouble
By ROISIN DeROSSA
Government plans to introduce incineration as a method of waste disposal are not going smoothly. After the reversals last week where Louth deferred a decision, and Monaghan County Councillors radically amended the regional draft plan, Galway Corporation this week threw the plan out altogether.
Galway councillors at their meeting last Monday July 24th voted unanimously to throw out the Waste Management Draft Plan, drawn up by M.C. O'Sullivan's Consultants for the Connacht Region. There may be some hard reckoning to be done by the 6 Fianna Fail councillors, not to mention 4 PD councillors, who all voted to oppose their own government's policy.
Not only did all the Galway councillors reject M C O'Sullivan's Plan, and P. J. Rudden's advice to councillors that ``incinerators are quite safe'', but they argued that since the only reason for having a regional waste plan in the first place was to promote incineration, or what O'Sullivans call `Thermal treatment', there was now no need for a regional plan at all.
So the councillors voted for a Galway waste management plan, with a commitment to no incineration, and increased recycling targets to relieve the problem of waste accumulating in the Poolboy site at Ballinasloe. The dream of Galway as an `eco-city' with immediate targets of 50% of waste recycled draws nearer. This is good news for Mayo, where the Sinn Féin submission to the council proposes Ballina as another eco-town.
The `No Incineration' campaign in Galway has grown from strength to strength under the umbrella group Galway for a Safe Environment (GSE), which gathered 22,114 signatures to a petition calling for no incineration, campaigning at shopping centres and door to door, which culminated in a mass meeting of over 1000 people in the City two months ago.
``It's a great victory for Galway City,'' says Aine Suttle of the GSE, ``which we hope will give a lead to the rest of the Connacht region to throw out the incineration plan. It seems incomprehensible that the Government here is attempting to foist incineration onto Ireland, especially when you consider the importance of retaining Ireland's `clean green image' as a major food producing and exporting country. This aspect'', says Aine Suttle, ``was relevant to the Galway executive of the IFA to lend their support to the GSE campaign.''
The Galway victory was acclaimed in Mayo, where the last council meeting deferred a decision on the Regional plan. Sligo and Roscommon have yet to vote on the plan. The only county to have approved the Connacht regional plan is Leitrim, which on Monday failed to support S.F. Councillor Liam McGirl's opposition to the plan. Leitrim approved the draft plan, on the nod, subject to 3 conditions: that councillors reserved their decision on technological considerations, upon which they did not consider themselves sufficiently well informed; that financing of the plan needed to be feasible for County Leitrim, and that any significant change in the plan would have to come back to the councillors for further decision. The County Manager, John McTiernan, says Liam McGirl, endorsed these 3 conditions.
There is trouble for Minister Dempsey in other regions too. Although the Dublin Region formally adopted the plan last year, and the South West Region of Clare, Kerry, Limerick City and County have all adopted their waste plan, there is trouble in the Midlands, where Longford, after councillors met with Paul Connett from New York, has deferred decision. According to Larry O'Toole of M C O Sullivan's there may be considerable difficulty in getting it through Laois County Council where, according to S.F. Councillor Brian Stanley in Portlaoise, there are strong environmental concerns over incineration. Westmeath, Tipperary North and Offaly, the other Midland Region counties, have adopted the plan.
Many of these councils have adopted reserved positions stating that should the draft plan be changed, and, in particular should the `thermal treatment' plant, end up being deposited in their county back yard, then they would prefer to reassess the plans. It is a moot point whether having once adopted the plan, the council will be allowed to reverse their decision.
Its is equally unclear whether Minister Dempsey needs all the councils in each region to pass the draft plans, or whether a majority of the counties in the region can impose the plan on all the other counties, including that county singled out to house the incinerator. The situation in Wexford is a case in point.
The Department of Environment states that the South East region in entirety has adopted their regional Waste Plan, which is strange because Wexford County Council voted, with the exception of F.F. Councillor Lorcan Allen, to reject the plan back in March.
Several of the other councils in the South East Area, (Kilkenny, Carlow, Tipperary South, Waterford City) were looking to re-enter the dispute. ``I would hope'', says John Dwyer, S.F. Councillor in New Ross, ``that this is not indicative of Minister Dempsey's approach to the democratic decision of the county councils on the issue of incinerators. Wexford County Councillors have opposed incineration, in Campile, or anywhere else in the South East Region. Does the minister intend to ride roughshod over that decision?''