Archive for the 'Incineration' Category

Dominick Donnelly’s submission to the Oral Hearing on the proposed Ringaskiddy Incinerator

Please note that I was censored from reading the latter part of point 5 of this submission into the record at the hearing by the Inspector. It’s all about the money, and this tries to get to the heart of the money issues, but that was deemed to be irrelevant to the proceedings. We cannot live in fear of asking the difficult questions. If there is nothing to hide, then let them come out in the open. If they don’t, then they must have something to hide.

Carrigaline Court Hotel, Thursday 28th April 2016

1) Introduction:
I am Dominick Donnelly. I work as a secondary school teacher of Maths, Applied Maths and Physics in Cork City. While I currently live in Cork City, I have in the past 20 years lived in various parts of Cork Harbour, in Passage West, Cobh and Carrigaline. I have been involved with CHASE since its inception, and thereby with fighting this proposal. I had the extreme honour to be elected to Passage West Town Council for one term, and I served as Mayor of Passage West for a year, and I also chaired the CHEPA campaign to fight the Port of Cork’s proposed reclamation of the Oyster Bank off Ringaskiddy for a number of years. I am a long-standing member of the Green Party, but I wish to make it clear that this is my personal submission, and not that of the Cork Green Party, which will be delivered later in this hearing. I give this background information just to make it clear that I have had a long involvement with Cork Harbour politics. In this submission I will focus on a number of key issues which I think have not been adequately dealt with elsewhere, but I will not seek to labour points that I think have been dealt with sufficiently well by others.

2) This Incinerator is Not Needed Nationally or Regionally
When we started on this journey in Cork Harbour 15 years ago there were no mass-burn incinerators in the country. At present there is one in operation, in Carranstown Co. Meath, with a second enormous one under construction in Poolbeg, Dublin. These two combined have sufficient capacity to deal with the country’s waste suitable for incineration, particularly when you factor in that there a number of cement kilns around the country currently looking at using the same waste streams to fire their kilns. In this situation even the most ardent fans of incineration would see that it is highly premature to be considering adding to this incineration capacity at present, at least until Poolbeg comes on stream late next year, and to see how that affects the waste market. This is so enormous it is bound to have a large effect on the waste market nationally. Also given the fact that we are going to have to move towards a more circular economy in the very near future given that we live on a finite planet and there simply isn’t enough stuff on the planet for us to continue living the wasteful lives we currently do, there must be falling levels of waste arising in the coming decades, and more of this will be going for reuse and recycling. As a planning authority surely in it incumbent on the board to take into account what effect overcapacity of incineration in the country would have. The Swedes learned this lesson many years ago, and have relied on substantial amounts of imported waste to keep their incinerators going, including taking large amounts of waste from their neighbour Norway. We should learn from their lessons. At least the Swedes had the good sense to attach district heating systems to their incinerators and thus derive the maximum benefit from this noxious technology. Given the location of this proposal there is no realistic likelihood of this ever happening in Ringaskiddy. Indaver will say that under our national waste policy that each region should be dealing with its own waste, and that is true. But those regional waste regions were substantially redrawn by Minister Hogan in 2011, and if required they can easily be redrawn again. The residents in the area have always contested that the reason this proposed facility is located where it is adjacent to a port is to facilitate the importation of waste. To me that is the only plausible explanation for the location of this proposed facility.

3) Overdevelopment of the Ringaskiddy Peninsula
This incinerator is proposed to be located in what is surely the most overdeveloped part of the whole country. Enough is enough. On the Ringaskiddy peninsula 50 years ago there were a few small villages and a lot of farms. The amount, and national significance, of the developments that have taken place on the peninsula since have contributed enormously to the national economy and to general progress, but they have happened without any realistic development of the community infrastructure, and realistically it has to end. In the area you have an expanding port facility, the National Maritime College, the only naval base in the country, one of only a handful of crematoria in the country, the growing nationally and internationally significant iMERC campus, the blossoming tourism and heritage potential of Spike Island, along with an enormous amount of industry. All this with only one road in, an inadequate bus service, no hope of a rail service and a local infrastructure that is basically at breaking point. There is no other village in the country has had to endure this amount of development. How on earth could it considered appropriate planning to put an incinerator in on top of that? It just can’t.

4) Zero Acceptance by Local Population
What I fear most should this proposal be granted planning permission would be the effect of that decision on the local population around Cork Harbour. In my time I have canvassed a very large amount of houses on both sides of the harbour, and I have met a huge number of the wider harbour community. Were this development to go ahead, I sincerely believe that it would be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. There is just absolutely no acceptance of the need for this facility, and were it to be granted permission large sections of the harbour population would I believe lose faith completely in officialdom in this country, and the mechanisms by which decisions are made on their behalf. What the consequences of this would be I don’t know, but there is certainly the potential there for things to get very ugly. I say this not by way of threat, but by way of my assessment of the mood and views of the population of the harbour area. Other developments have been opposed, but there has been a recognition of potential benefits of those developments too. In my experience, nobody feels that they would derive any benefit from this proposal, and in this way it is different to other developments, and the community response is also therefore different and more heartfelt.

5) National Policy and Politics
I am a political animal by my nature. Politics is often misconstrued, but it is at its core a mechanism by which decisions are reached on behalf of the population. All national policy comes about as a result of politics, including waste policy. This hearing has heard some very valuable contributions already from a number of politicians from the area, not one of whom it must be noted have spoken up in favour of this proposal, thus underlying the depth of the communities’ opposition. Whatever their personal convictions, no politician in the area is going to dare speak up in favour, as that would be political suicide. I wish to highlight a couple of decisions and how they have brought us to where we are today. Incineration was first put on the national agenda and became part of national policy about 20 years ago by a Fianna Fail led Government. Shortly afterwards a number of proposed incinerator applications began happening around the country, including in Ringaskiddy. Of all of those, most of the applications died a death, with only two getting permission to date, Carranstown and Poolbeg. Locally we thought this application had died a death too due to the valiant efforts of the community to fight it, until it reappeared on the agenda recently again. During the Government of 2007-2011 of which my own party was part, and my party colleague John Gormley was Minister for the Environment, significant changes were made to waste policy, including the introduction of incineration levies. He was unable to ban it outright as there were at that stage two existing planning permissions in place, but he made sure that they were not economically viable, and little progress was made on their construction. It was only with the advent of the Fine Gael / Labour Government in 2011 that incineration was put firmly back on the national agenda. One of the first decisions made by the incoming Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, or Minister against the Environment as I like to call him, was to get rid of the incineration levies, and to redraw the national waste regions. Much as I welcome the contributions of the local representatives to this hearing, none of them said anything about this decision of Phil Hogan’s at the time, and I find it duplicitous and nimbyist of them to oppose this application now. I ask the question of Fine Gael, and particularly Minister Coveney, were Fine Gael paid to remove the incineration levy? Obviously major lobbying of them went on, but I wonder how much of this lobbying went on within the confines of Fine Gael fundraising events such as golf classics or dinners? I do not expect an answer to that question, but it is to me the only rational explanation as to why the incineration levy was removed. It is the removal of the levy that has led directly to the construction of the incinerators in Carranstown and Poolbeg, and to this application now. There was thereby a huge financial incentive for those involved in incineration to have the levy removed. I also ask Indaver and John Ahern were they involved in any interactions with Fine Gael and Minister Hogan at this time? Has John Ahern or any other Indaver executives ever attended a Fine Gael fundraiser, such as a golf classic or a dinner? These seem to be the locations where much of national importance is actually decided, and if John Ahern has not got involved in this, then surely he is not doing his job properly. Again these are probably rhetorical questions and I do not expect to get a true answer.

6) Ireland Will Not Meet Its Emission Targets
Last week the EPA issued a report illustrating how Ireland has not a hope of reaching its greenhouse gas emission targets by 2020, and in fact we will be quite far away from them. This just highlights how we have failed, and continue to fail to take the issue of climate change seriously, both nationally and individually. This proposal can in no way be construed to be contributing in any positive sense to the reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions, and in fact by its very nature it would contribute to the continuation of the wasteful linear economy, rather than contributing to a shift to a more circular economy, which we desperately need if we are to have any hope of preventing runaway climate change in the near future.

I would like to finish Mr Inspector by reading a poem I wrote at the start of this hearing last week. I think it encapsulates the unbalanced nature of the proceedings here.

Round 3

Here we go again,
into the fray.

The Ringaskiddy Incinerator. Oral Hearing. Round 3.

Another bland hotel conference room,
Mr. Inspector on his dais.

To the right
a phalanx of corporate prostitutes in their grey uniformity,
keeping tight formation,
dutifully waiting to do their pimps’ bidding.
Let no-one break the line,
or dare show a glimpse of humanity.

To the left
a huddle of blinkered technocrats,
hoping to get out alive
so that they can go back,
back to hiding quietly
behind their layers of bureaucracy.
They are really not there to fight.

Out front
a motley rabble,
full of hubbub and colour and chaotic consternation
loud, proud and full of vigour
for the fight ahead.
At their centre, a quiet man in a suit
directing the show,
or more like letting the chaos unfurl gently,
the unkempt hair exposing his true loyalties.
He is not really a suit,
more at ease amongst the passions of the masses
than the cold conformity of complicity.

Amidst all this ruile buile of preparation
the fourth estate flit,
notepads at the ready,
thrusting microphones in front of all and sundry,
recording the battle cries and the bon mots.

At the top Mr. Inspector calls proceedings to order.
The rabble quietens and takes their positions,
armed only with love and passion
and bonds of conviction that bind them tighter than any mere mercenaries.
Let the battle commence.
I know which side I’m on.

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Round 3

Round 3

Here we go again,
into the fray.

The Ringaskiddy Incinerator. Oral Hearing. Round 3.

Another bland hotel conference room,
Mr. Inspector on his dais.

To the right
a phalanx of corporate prostitutes in their grey uniformity,
keeping tight formation,
dutifully waiting to do their pimps’ bidding.
Let no-one break the line,
or dare show a glimpse of humanity.

To the left
a huddle of blinkered technocrats,
hoping to get out alive
so that they can go back,
back to hiding quietly
behind their layers of bureaucracy.
They are really not there to fight.

Out front
a motley rabble,
full of hubbub and colour and chaotic consternation
loud, proud and full of vigour
for the fight ahead.
At their centre, a quiet man in a suit
directing the show,
or more like letting the chaos unfurl gently,
the unkempt hair exposing his true loyalties.
He is not really a suit,
more at ease amongst the passions of the masses
than the cold conformity of complicity.

Amidst all this ruile buile of preparation
the fourth estate flit,
notepads at the ready,
thrusting microphones in front of all and sundry,
recording the battle cries and the bon mots.

At the top Mr. Inspector calls proceedings to order.
The rabble quietens and takes their positions,
armed only with love and passion
and bonds of conviction that bind them tighter than any mere mercenaries.
Let the battle commence.

I know which side I’m on.

Cllr. Donnelly welcomes Minister Gormley’s clarification of waste policy for all planning authorities

3rd June 2009

Department of Environment circular to all planning authorities makes it clear that mechanical and biological treatments, not incineration, are to be the cornerstones of national waste policy in the future

The Green Party’s candidate for the Carrigaline area of Cork County Council and for Passage West Town Council, Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, has welcomed the letter which has been circulated to all planning authorities around the country from the Department of the Environment, which clarifies that waste policy in the country is changing, with the emphasis switching away from incineration towards mechanical and biological treatment. This circular comes in advance of the full review of national waste policy which is currently being undertaken by consultants Eunomia, and which is due to be complete in July.

Cllr. Donnelly said: “This clarification that incineration is no longer a cornerstone of national waste policy, coupled with the recent introduction of an incineration levy comparable to the landfill levy, is highly significant for the planning application currently before An Bord Pleanála for two incinerators at Ringaskiddy. The oral hearing for that application is due to resume next Monday, and surely the message is coming loud and clear from Government that incineration is no longer part of Government policy. Given that when the Ringaskiddy incinerators were granted planning five years ago by An Bord Pleanála it was solely on the basis that it was Government policy, this clarification from Minister Gormley, I think now makes it impossible for the board to reasonably grant planning for the Ringaskiddy incinerators.”

“As well as this circular, and the recent incineration levies, I have seen the text of an order which Minister Gormley will be issuing next week, which in effect reinstates the Proximity Principle. This effectively means that any incinerator or landfill can only accept waste from whichever of the eight waste management regions in which it is situated. The Ringaskiddy incinerators would therefore be only able to accept waste from within County Cork. This really makes them non-viable financially, and so should be another nail in their coffin,” continued Cllr. Donnelly.

Cllr. Donnelly concluded: “With this series of measures introduced by Minister Gormley in recent weeks, I hope it is now patently clear that incineration is no longer a key component of national waste management policy. While an outright ban on incineration is not currently possible due to existing planning permissions in Poolbeg in Dublin, and in Carranstown, Co. Meath, it is now clear that Government policy is heading in that direction. Incineration is so clearly not the way we should be dealing with our waste. A proper waste industry based on reuse, recycling within this country, and mechanical and biological treatments is the only policy that makes any sense, both in terms of economics and the environment.”

 

Full text of Department of the Envrionment circular to planning authorities:

May 2009

Update on progress in respect of implementing the waste management provisions of the Programme for Government

 I am directed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to update you on progress in respect of implementing the waste management provisions of the Programme for Government, and in particular the commitment to conduct an international review of waste management policy. 

 The Programme for Government makes major commitments in relation to national waste policy. In particular, there is an emphasis on moving away from the high reliance on incineration foreseen in the National Development Plan and reflected in the regional waste management plans for which the local authorities have statutory responsibility, generally operating in regional groupings. In this regard it is intended that there be an increased commitment to the use of alternative technologies, including those known as mechanical and biological treatment.

 The Department’s Statement of Strategy 2008-2010, which is published on the Department’s web site and which was noted by Government in July 2008, states:

 “The new Programme for Government indicates a further development of waste and resource policy in the direction of sustainability, in particular, to move away from mass burn incineration towards alternative technologies and to minimise waste going to landfill, subject to the outcome of the review of the waste management strategy. This major international review being undertaken by the Department will address how best to implement waste prevention and minimisation, and the emergence of new technologies in waste management.”

 Progress on the review of waste management strategy

Consultants have been retained to conduct the study of waste policy options which will underpin the conclusion of the overall review later this year. This work is well advanced and a series of interim reports has been considered by the Review Steering Group. It is considered that the study itself should be concluded on time, July 2009, with policy proposals being brought to Government shortly thereafter.

 Interim policy measures

While this work is on target, it is acknowledged that progress towards meeting Ireland’s targets under the Landfill Directive and the requirements of the recently adopted Waste Framework Directive cannot wait. Therefore the Minister is pressing ahead with key initiatives which are compatible with the overall objectives of the review in order to meet the targets. These include:

  • increase in the landfill levy and the introduction of a levy on incineration;
  • roll-out of brown bin collections;
  • intensifying efforts to promote at source/home composting;
  • supporting small-scale local composting initiatives;
  • encouraging access to waste streams for composting/anaerobic digestion, recycling and other processes high on the waste hierarchy; and,
  • source segregated collection of commercial biowaste.

 The Minister has also initiated a Strategic Environmental Assessment on proposed policy directions to the EPA and local authorities which would (in relation to their functions under the Waste Management Acts and any instruments made thereunder), inter alia, require the recipients to:

  • limit incineration capacity to ensure that waste is not drawn to incineration which could have been dealt with by recycling or other methods higher up the waste hierarchy;
  • refrain from exercising their powers in such a way as to direct waste to landfill or incineration.

 The proposed policy direction is subject to consultation with both the public and all stakeholders, including local authorities.

 The above are interim actions intended to help meet the Landfill Directive targets while implementing the commitments in the Programme for Government. The Minister considers that they are in line with the policies emerging from the overall review.

 Queries in relation to this Circular may be addressed to the undersigned. 

 Yours sincerely,

­­­­­­Michael Layde

Principal Officer – Waste Policy: Review and Regulation

Cllr. Donnelly says the people of Cork Harbour will never allow the incinerators to be built

15th May 2009

Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, Green Party member of Passage West Town Council and candidate for Cork County Council, addressed the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing into the Ringaskiddy incinerators yesterday.  The hearing has now adjourned for the next three weeks.

After the hearing, Cllr. Donnelly, who is a member of the CHASE steering committee, said:  “In my presentation to the An Bord Pleanála inspector I focused on three main areas.  The first of these was that the direction of development in Cork Harbour has changed, away from being a purely industrial zone to becoming a centre for tourism, culture and amenity.  With the closure of the steelworks and the IFI fertilizer factory, Cork Harbour now has the chance to reach its potential as a premium waterfront destination.  The Cork Area Strategic Plan calls Cork Harbour ‘Europe’s most exciting waterfront’, and while it certainly has the potential to achieve that, it has not yet done so.  However with plans to open up Spike Island to visitors, existing planning permissions for marinas at Monkstown and Passage West, the return next year of the Cork Swansea ferry service, and with ongoing efforts to have Cork City and Harbour achieve UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the impetus for development has clearly changed.  The building of a huge obtrusive incinerator in the middle of all of this, would surely scupper any chance of Cork Harbour achieving the global recognition it should have.  Sydney Harbour has its iconic Opera House, Cork Harbour would have a monstrous incinerator.”

Cllr. Donnelly continued:  “I also discussed how my Green Party colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley, has made clear statements as to how national waste policy is changing.  Given that five years ago the incinerator was granted planning permission solely on the basis that it was Government policy, it is crucial that the inspector and the board understand that Government policy is shifting.  While the full review of waste policy is still underway, and won’t be ready until the Autumn, the Minister has made many clear indications that the policy has shifted away from incineration.  For example he recently indicated that there will be a doubling of the landfill levies later this year, with the introduction of a similar incineration levy, with the express intent of making it less economically viable to landfill or burn our waste, and to encourage waste minimisation, recycling and reuse.”

“I finished my presentation by focusing on how there is absolutely no community acceptance for the incinerators in the communities around the harbour, and beyond into the wider Cork community.  These communities have fought the incinerators for eight years already unbowed, and will continue to fight for as long as it takes.  I told the inspector that it would save our communities a lot of future grief is she refused this planning application now, but that the communities would never allow the incinerators to be built, whatever that takes,” concluded Cllr. Donnelly.

The full text of Cllr. Donnelly’s oral presentation to An Bord Pleanála is available at:  https://dominickdonnelly.com/links/dominicks-oral-submission-to-indaver-oral-hearing/

Dominick’s oral submission to An Bord Pleanala on Ringaskiddy incinerators

Click on link:  https://dominickdonnelly.com/links/dominicks-oral-submission-to-indaver-oral-hearing/

Cllr. Donnelly welcomes Minister Gormley’s initiative, which will help create thousands of jobs in the Irish recycling industry

13th May 2009

Minister for Environment launches new Market Development Plan to create jobs from waste currently exported

Mr John Gormley, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government today launched an innovative €13 million Market Development Programme to develop new markets and help create new Irish jobs by transforming waste into new sustainable products.  Targeting entrepreneurs, third level institutions, manufacturers and waste organisations, over the next five years, the Market Development Programme will identify and help develop markets for a variety of waste streams including plastics, paper, metals, organics, glass and wood.  Entrepreneurs interested in creating new businesses from waste can get further information at www.mdg.ie.

Green Party member of Passage West Town Council, and candidate for Cork County Council, Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, who co-authored the Green Party’s waste policy and who is very involved with CHASE in fighting the Ringaskiddy incinerators, said:  “I welcome this initiative from Minister Gormley, which will help create a proper recycling industry in Ireland.  In the past recycling in Ireland was only seen as the segregation of waste into different waste streams.  Most of this was then exported to be reprocessed into something useful somewhere else.  However a proper recycling industry in Ireland, where we treat our waste as a valuable resource, will create literally thousands of jobs and will be a huge boost to the Irish economy.  This announcement from Minister Gormley is a first step along that road, where waste is no longer a problem, but is a valuable resource.”

Cllr. Donnelly continued:  “I used to own and run the first green shop in Ireland, All That’s Green in Kinsale, where I used to import and sell many products made from recycled materials, such as stationery and plastics.  Almost none of these recycled products came from Ireland.  It struck me then how we should be treating all waste as a valuable resource, and turning it back into products which we can sell.  The days of burying waste in a hole in the ground, or even worse, burning it in an incinerator, are thankfully coming to an end, and this Market Development Programme is very much part of the way forward.”

“I welcome this as the start of a new dawn in Ireland.  I have been advocating for many years that we must not treat waste as a problem, but rather see it as a resource for recycling and reuse.  This is the start of a whole new industry for Ireland, and I encourage all entrepreneurs to get involved,” concluded Cllr. Donnelly.

The people of Cork will not be taken in by Indaver’s flowery language, says Cllr. Donnelly

5th May 2009

As the second week of the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing into the application by Indaver Ireland to build two incinerators in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork begins, the Green Party’s candidate for the Carrigaline electoral area of Cork County Council and for Passage West Town Council, Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, has criticised Indaver for trying to hide from the public the true magnitude of the effects their incinerators would have.

“For most of last week, when Indaver were presenting their case to An Bord Pleanála, their “experts” hid behind impenetrable and obscure language, which the ordinary members of the public had no hope in understanding.  In fact the Inspector reprimanded them for this.  When Indaver did eventually condescend to speak in more ordinary language, they made it sound as if what they planned to build would have no more impact on the people of Cork than if they were planting a flower garden.  They claimed their incinerators would have such little effect on health, visual amenity, traffic, property values, wildlife, pollution, etc, that any community should be welcoming them with open arms ,” Cllr. Donnelly said.

“However the people of Cork are not so gullible as to be taken in by this hogwash.  The communities around the lower harbour are resolute in their opposition to Indaver’s proposal, and have very good reasons for opposing these incinerators so vehemently.  We know that these incinerators would have permanent detrimental effects on the quality of life of those living anywhere close to Cork Harbour, and we are not willing to accept those risks.  We know that incinerators are bad for our health, particularly for young children and the unborn.  We now that this will create a bad perception of Cork Harbour as the country’s dumping ground.  We know that building incinerators at the end of a peninsula with only one main road in makes no planning sense.  We know that the scale of the building proposed would be a permanent blot on the wonderful visual landscape of Cork Harbour.  However we also know that we will do everything in our power to prevent this happening, as we have clearly shown over the past eight years,” Cllr. Donnelly concluded.