Sure wasn’t Indian Summers last night just amazing. Every writer ever wishes they’d written that.
Monday 16th May – day sixteen – began at 3pm with questions on coastal erosion to the ARUP expert for Indaver Julie Ascoop, and to Joanna O’Brien, I believe also for ARUP but I may be wrong.
The Inspector pointed out how Indaver have said that flooding will be mitigated by the surface water drainage design, and asked if this was evidence based. Joanna O’Brien replied that the system has been validated through knowledge of the system, not through actual real life testing of it.
Shane Bennett, expert in hydrogeology referred to when Julie Ascoop described her data as “conservative”, and asked for a definition of same. Ms Ascoop replied that it means that when they had a choice to make, they chose the more conservative option. They did a study of 100 years of OSi maps, and chose the ones showing the biggest retreat of the cliff, for example.
Shane also asked what they meant by “localised” slope failures, saying that “localised” was stretching it a bit. Ms Ascoop said that they meant the biggest one everyone’s been talking about.
Bettie Higgs, UCC expert in geology, asked the experts if they could guarantee that there would be no environmental impacts from the sacrificial material they want to place on Gobby Beach. Ms Ascoop said that the material would be expected to degrade and be removed into the sea after a while. Later on Ms Ascoop referenced this again, adding that there will be a layer of gravel put in place for machinery to drive on (!) and then the sacrificial material itself.
Bettie then asked if the size of the pebbles on the beach adjacent to the site meant that the area was high-energy or low-energy. Throughout the day we had back and forth on this, with Ms Ascoop replying that the site is a bit of both, and Bettie saying that the small size of the pebbles determines that it is high energy, as energy is needed to move them around and break them up.
Solicitor for CHASE Joe Noonan showed us a video taken by chairwoman of CHASE Mary O’Leary in April during the last orange weather alert – I believe it was filmed on Gobby Beach. The video shows brown waves hitting the shoreline, with a view out to the cliff and the proposed site – and very heavy winds.
Issues too arose on the sacrificial material itself – on where it will be sourced from and whether it’s actually similar to what’s on the beach already. Bettie was arguing that it isn’t and that it will significantly change the nature of the beach.
Mamie Bowen concurred with that, asking how scientists in the future could possibly know what was there originally if it’s now been covered up. Joanna O’Brien reiterated that the sacrificial material and what’s already there are chemically similar. Mamie replied that UCC students have been visiting Gobby Beach for 50 years to study; to destroy something of such value? The Inspector said that he’d noted her observation.
Julie Ascoop said that the material they’re planning to put there is only a small amount compared to what’s already there. Mamie asked about the effect of closing the beach – and Rory Mulcahy, SC for Indaver, replied that there was no mention by them of the beach being closed. Fiona Patterson from ARUP corrected him – they did mention it last week, and in chapter 18.104.22.168 of the EIS they describe the construction phase of the placing of the material.
It was even mentioned that Cork Harbour is sinking by 0.5mm per year (I think?) and that Malin Head is rising. Joe Noonan made an observation that the car park between the proposed site and Gobby Beach is maintained by Cork County Council, and that Indaver have no consent from the Roads Authority to close it off for the duration of the filling in of the cliff.
Jonathan Fleury said later that when he was working on the Ballingcollig bypass, it was not unknown for machinery and trucks to fall into sinkholes. He asked how Indaver plan to place the material on the beach – by tipping it over the top of the cliff with 60t trucks? He also asked what types of machinery Indaver would be using for this purpose and didn’t get an answer.
Joanna O’Brien replied that the bypass mentioned is built on limestone and sinkholes are not unknown to an engineer. Julie Ascoop said that they wouldn’t be tipping the material from the cliff; they would be working at the high water mark on Gobby Beah.
Cllr Marcia D’Alton asked how the public would access the beach when Indaver are filling in the cliff, and Fiona Patterson said that there would be safe pedestrian access to the car park, but that that’s where they’d be storing the material itself, and that part would be cordoned off.
Marcia later asked if it mentioned anywhere in the EIS what the material would look like when placed there, and it doesn’t*.
We had a short break, and at six returned to questions from Marcia to Jennifer Harmon, the expert on noise and vibration. Marcia began by stating that it’s unbelievable that all the construction of the site would be happening 20m from the entrance to the NMCI but no noise impact has been predicted. Ms Harmon said that they did a detailed noise model. Marcia also raised the point on the effect construction noise will have on the workers at Haulbowline Island, seeing as noise can be amplified across bodies of water.
Marcia then asked about cracks in the Martello Tower forming because of noise levels, to upset from the audience that that may happen. Ms Harmon said that the Tower and the building site are too far apart, and she’s confident there’s no risk of cracks in the Tower.
Marcia also pointed out how noisy it is when they clean out the steam system. Conor Jones, manager of Indaver’s Meath facility, replied that in Meath they consulted with the neighbours to arrange to clean the systems at a time that suited them.
Mamie Bowen then raised the issue again of the family with disabled children living just off the L2545, across the Western Field from the incinerator. The Inspector asked if this property was deemed noise-sensitive, and Jennifer Harmon replied that it wasn’t. Mamie said the house has been there for over a year, and reiterated that there are disabled people living in it – so why wasn’t special consideration given to it? Ms Harmon said that they don’t favour one property over another. Mamie replied that the house wouldn’t be there if their incinerator was.
Mamie also reiterated concerns about mourners going to funerals nearby. Ms Harmon said that it won’t affect people at the funeral if they are expecting construction noise.
My Dad Gordon Reid then brought up again section 3.1.2 of Ms Harmon’s witness statement, which replies to a couple living in Rushbrooke – Ms Harmon responds to their concerns on noise level that at Rushbrooke that the levels would only be about 20 decibels.
Dad reiterated that if you live in a place where you can hear a plane at 35,000ft, a constant background noise of 20db is incredibly loud, but repeated that we’re not familiar with Rushbrooke and don’t know how loud or quiet it is. Ms Harmon replied that 20db is an extremely low level, not usually found in the natural environment. Dad also queried the use of the word “negligible”; Ms Harmon said it means it won’t alter the environment.
Just before proceedings finished at seven, Rory Mulcahy raised the issue of the USB stick dad was asked to give with the relevant information for tomorrow’s questioning of Dr Fergal Callahan, dioxin expert. Mr Mulcahy said that one document on the drive is 500 pages long, and one is 1,200 pages long. He said it isn’t practical to deal with so much information at this late stage, so could Dr Reid give us a reference?
Dad said they didn’t have to read it all, and told them the relevant page numbers. Úna Chambers, Carrigaline CHASE, wished to comment that Indaver had given us four volumes of information with only weeks to read it all.
A final issue was raised by Marcia – had noise levels on Spike Island been tested for? Ms Harmon said Spike was too far away.
(We’re certain Dad accidentally gave Mr Mulcahy the wrong reference.)
Tomorrow, or rather today as I upload this, will be the last day of the hearing. We’ll be beginning with questions to Dr Callahan, done jointly by my dad and Joe Noonan. My dad will be making a closing statement, and so will I – I will also be giving to the Board a printed copy of the blog so far, very kindly done by Joe’s secretary Pippa.
Anyone can ask a question, you don’t need to be an expert!
If you want your submission archived, do please send it to email@example.com
*That’s what we thought originally; I recently found EIS figure 11.6.2 which shows it clearly.