14th May 2009


Submission of Cllr. Dominick Donnelly to An Bord Pleanála oral hearing for Waste to Energy Facility and Transfer Station at Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork

Case Reference PL04.PA0010

 Madam Inspector,

 I am Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, Green Party member of Passage West Town Council and candidate in the upcoming local elections for the Carrigaline electoral area of Cork County Council, which includes both where we are sitting now, and also Ringaskiddy.  I am also the chairperson of the Monkstown branch of the Cork Harbour Environmental Protection Association (CHEPA), which is represented at this hearing by Cllr. Marcia D’Alton.  I am also on the steering committee of CHASE.

 I would like to focus on three main areas in my objection to this proposal.

 1) Implications of this proposal on the future development of Cork Harbour

  • We must move the perception of Cork Harbour as an industrial zone to that of it being the second largest natural harbour in the world, with a long history, and a host of attractions and amenities.  This proposal would just cement the perception of the harbour as purely an industrial zone, and would almost certainly stifle the growing impetus for the harbour to reach its potential as a major centre for tourism, heritage and amenity.
  • CASP refers to Cork Harbour “Europe’s most exciting waterfront”.  While it is hardly that at present, it certainly has that potential, and there are a number of initiatives in the pipeline which should help to bring that about, some of which I will highlight now.
  • The opening up of Spike Island to visitors, with its fort, its phenomenal history as a penal colony, monastic site and prison, is hopefully not very far away.  This would give a real focus for tourism in the middle of the harbour, with hopefully visitors travelling by boat to the island from both the Cobh and Ringaskiddy sides.  With its very close proximity to Spike Island, and with it being clearly visible from much of the island unscreened, this proposal would surely have a hugely detrimental effect on the experience of visitors to Spike Island.
  • With a number of areas around the harbour designated as Special Protection Areas for birds, and with two of those in close proximity to this proposal at Loughbeg and Monkstown Creek, this proposal would surely have the potential to have very negative effects on the future of these SPAs.  Also, to illustrate where the impetus is for future development in the harbour, I am involved with a group which is looking at developing an interpretive/education centre for the wildlife in the harbour, particularly the birds, at Harper’s Island, which is near Glounthaune, and this group will hopefully be going for EU funding for this project later this year.
  • I am also involved with a group which has submitted a proposal to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley, for Cork City and Harbour to be considered for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.  While it will take a number of years for this proposal to reach fruition, I believe it will do so and deserves to do so.  I recently organised a trip for the Minister around Cork Harbour in support of this application, to highlight to him the history and heritage of the harbour, and to show him the many amenities and attractions, both actual and potential, around the harbour.
  • With the inevitable global decline in air travel due to peak oil and the dwindling supply and increasing price of aviation fuel, more international travel and trade by ship will occur in the future.  With the cruise liner terminal at Cobh and the ferry port at Ringaskiddy both being within sight of this proposed development, it would give a very poor first impression of this country, and in no way does it add any amenity value to our potential visitors.  With a new ferry service from Cork to Swansea due to start early next year, there is clearly going to be growth in this area in Cork Harbour in the future.
  • On the amenity side, there are existing planning permissions for new marinas at both Monkstown and Passage West, and in time these should lead to a substantial increase in the use of the lower harbour for water based leisure pursuits.  The lower harbour is already used for sailing, fishing and many other leisure pursuits, particularly from Crosshaven, Cobh and Monkstown.  However if this proposal was built, I am sure the development of the amenity value of Cork Harbour would be substantially diminished, as people will simply not want to sail or row in the lee of two huge incinerators.
  • Finally around the National Maritime College of Ireland, and the Naval Base at Haulbowline, there is a proposal to develop what is being called the Marine and Energy Research Cluster (MERC), incorporating the above two institutions, and also two departments of UCC, the Coastal and Maritime Research Centre (CMRC) and the Hydrological and Marine Research Centre (HMRC).  A site has been identified for this development adjacent to the NMCI, and the plan has already received the backing, of, among others the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan.  Surely it would be completely ludicrous to have this proposal running alongside a substantial number of students doing nationally important research.

 2) Changes in national waste policy

  • The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley has made a number of indications as to how national waste policy is changing.  There is currently a review of national waste management policy underway within the department.  I am part of an internal Green Party advisory group for the minister on waste policy, and for example, last year we were very involved in drawing up the terms of reference for the review which is currently underway.  While the minister might wish to ban mass incineration outright, he cannot do so as there are two existing planning permissions in place for such incinerators, in Poolbeg in Dublin and in Carranstown in Co. Meath.  He has however made numerous statements saying that he does not see incineration as being part of the way Ireland should be dealing with its waste in the future.  I strongly believe that when this review is complete, national waste policy will be clearly moving in the direction of a zero waste policy, and there will be no room within the policy for incineration.
  • Only yesterday, for example, the minister announced that there will be substantial increases, probably a doubling, in the landfill levy later this year, and that there would be a similar incineration levy.  This is reported in today’s Irish Times.  The minister’s stated purpose for this increase in the levies is to reduce the quantities of waste going for disposal, and to thereby encourage the growth of waste minimisation, recycling and reuse.
  • Also yesterday the minister launched the Market Development Plan for creating an indigenous recycling industry in Ireland, with a fund of €13 million.  This is a clear indication that the way forward is not to treat waste a problem to be buried or burned, but that it is a resource which should be reused or recycled.
  • I am also of the strong opinion that the minister will be reintroducing the Proximity Principle into Irish law in the very near future.  This was removed from the statutes when Dick Roche was Minister, and I know that John Gormley is looking to reinstate it in the very near future.  This would make the transfer of waste for disposal (including incineration) between any of the eight waste regions in the country extremely difficult, if not impossible, and would leave any facility dependent on only receiving waste from whichever region it is situated in.  Given that the Cork Regional Waste Management Plan does not include incineration, if the proximity principle were in place again, it would leave this proposal with little or no waste to burn.
  • With two incinerators in the country already with planning permission, but with no sign yet of any realistic date for start of operation, given that they haven’t started constructing either of them yet, surely it would be bad planning to grant permission for a third until it is clear that there would be a national demand for a third incinerator.
  • I urge you inspector to look at the decision earlier this year by An Bord Pleanála not to grant permission for an incinerator in Rathcoole in Co. Dublin.  I believe there are many similarities between this proposal and that one, particularly in that the local authority there did not have incineration as part of its waste management plan, and also the fact that the board were not satisfied that the proposal did not pose a threat to the health of the local population.

 3) No local public acceptance of this proposal

  • As you are no doubt aware, madam inspector, there is no public acceptance of this proposal among the communities living around the harbour.  Through CHASE, and its sister organisations, the communities around the harbour have shown enormous resolve and commitment to fight this proposal to the last, as we have been doing for more than eight years now.  There are some within the community who believe that fighting this is a waste of time, as the big guy always gets his way in spite of the communities’ wishes.  However there are many, many more within our communities who will fight this proposal to the last.  We are all hopeful that the outcome of this hearing will give us peace at last, and will finally kill off Indaver and their ridiculous proposal, by refusing them planning permission.  However if that is not the case, the fight will continue, and I assure you that the feeling within our communities is so strong that I guarantee that these incinerators will not be built.  I hope that you save us all from further grief by killing it off now.

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March 2023

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