Day ten of the oral hearing began with a reply from Indaver to the submissions put in by the Department of Defence and the Air Corps. The first document claims that a no-fly zone around the incinerator would not be needed. The second is from Indaver expert Dr Edward Porter, and it looks at the risk to aircraft from emissions. The third is from Wind Farm Aviation Consultants Ltd, and it examines the objection from the Department of Defence on the 22nd of April.
Solicitor for CHASE Joe Noonan brought our attention to the fact that it is now the 4th of May when we’re getting a response to the objections which were received in April. He added that CHASE find it “discourteous” to give out further documents at all, as they are so pressed for time and resources.
The three documents were read into the record, and we’re expecting a response from the Department next week.
The first submission was from Brendan Richardson, lecturer in UCC, who specialises in consumer behaviour and has 21 years’ experience in consumer research.
He began by elaborating on the difficulties in encouraging consumers to be sustainable in their choices, and gave a definition of same. Consumers aspire to be responsible, but if they don’t see the good results of their behaviour, it discourages them greatly. A sense of helplessness ties in to this; if consumers have no input and cannot see the results of their sustainable actions, that feeling of helplessness is exacerbated.
Brendan said this aspiration to be sustainable is a delicate matter. Research he quoted stated that it is a “trigger” that sets off the want to be more responsible as consumers – basically something happens that makes us want to change our behaviour. But this is not long-lasting, as a “trigger” doesn’t give us the capacity to be truly sustainable, only an aspiration.
“Incineration is a disincentive to reducing household waste,” he said later, after stating that we need to do everything to encourage consumers to be sustainable. On the SRWMP, Brendan said that mass incineration is detrimental to the want for sustainability, and it is part of a linear economy and not a circular one.
He reiterated that everything needs to be done to encourage sustainability in consumers, and to let them know that they do have a role to play. He also highlighted the importance of the role of the community in encouraging people to be sustainable. A break immediately followed his submission – he literally had a crowd around him afterwards, asking for copies of the objection.
During the mid-morning break I was treated to coffee cake and tea with the Greens, and returned to hear Bettie Higgs, expert and lecturer in geology in UCC. She criticised Joanna O’Brien and Julie Ascoop’s expert witness statements, before going on to voice concerns for the students and research staff who often work on Gobby Beach. We saw a picture of the cliff erosion, where the uncovered soil is void of any vegetation or weeds – which only happens when serious erosion has occurred recently. Bettie said that the erosion is more extensive than Indaver let on.
Bettie pointed out the contradiction between Indaver expert Ken Leahy saying there are no springs on the site, but Julie Ascoop is basing her evidence on there being one. She went on to say that she chose to teach in Cork, and described Gobby Beach as a “natural lab to study in … There is no other site like this”. If the incinerator gets built, she said she will no longer bring students and researchers to the site to study for safety reasons.
Bettie also criticised Indaver’s plans to take shingle from Finbarr O’Neill Quarry to fill in the erosion– she said the shingle sourced from the quarry is totally different to what’s on the beach already, although Indaver disagrees. Later she asked what modelling Indaver had done to determine how a plume would behave on a calm day. She also mentioned a conversation she had with a woman from the council who said incineration was needed as they were desperate to get rid of the waste produced by the southern Region, before highlighted the unfair playing field between us and Indaver – they have experts who are paid to lie in their reports, it’s their job.
Mamie Bowen, Monkstown, raised the question of public consultation meetings Indaver had held before the application was put in – where were they? when were they? I don’t have an immediate answer recorded in my notes – if memory serves Rory Mulcahy said a list would be provided.
The next objection came from Linda Fitzpatrick, media representative for CHASE. “I’ve been with CHASE since 2001,” she began, going on to speak of the immense time demand put on many people from being at these hearings, and that there’s no time for family occasions or events. She mentioned how a great number of people found €50 to object was too much – so CHASE set up the community objection. She also said that all the extra documentation given to us by Indaver showed they didn’t really care.
Linda described for us the timelapse from PlumePlotter which shows the plume from the incinerator stack we would experience if the proposal goes ahead. The simulator takes the plume and puts it against the exact wind conditions from 2015, hour by hour. At the end of the video it shows the average, and during the video we see a black cloud building up showing the average spread. The link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpD-7rxL5iI
Linda said that the site is surrounded with hills; it’s literally in a basin – the whole Harbour is. She quoted an expert who said that, topographically, he has never seen a worse site for an incinerator. Linda went on to reference the EPA website being down over several weekends, and the members of the community present concurred; she also said on air emissions that the monitoring infrastructure proposed isn’t good enough.
She spoke of her job as being the media person for CHASE, and her wonderment at the people who’ve come together to oppose the incinerator – and asked, when will people come in to planning?
She spoke on trust – she said it’s hard to put things like health and our future in the hands of others. The applicant, she continued, is asking us to trust that Haulbowline Island would not be inoperable, even though the Defence Forces themselves have said it would.
“Over the years I’ve started trusting the applicant.” Elaborating, she said she trusts Indaver to use selective quotation, to always resort to PR, and to turn to behind the scenes lobbying, to name a few.
Clare MacSweeny followed; she is the manager of Blackrock Castle and sits on the San Francisco Sister City committee. She said that tourist numbers coming to Ireland are up by 25%, that 4.2 million tourists every year come to County Cork, and €5 billion was spent by tourists visiting Ireland in 2014.
Describing Cork as “Ireland’s maritime paradise”, she asked how incineration can fit into that? Adding, “Our opposition to this incinerator will move mountains to sustain this paradise.”
Going back to San Francisco, she spoke of the huge opposition in the 80s to incineration, and how that lead to them implementing a zero-waste policy; she also mentioned someone from San Francisco who visited Cork and was shocked to see our waste problems, and that lead to the Sister City committee being set up.
Clare said she was proud of the people of Cork in taking back their harbour, and said working within a climate-aware framework was more rewarding than “cleaning up yet another mess”. She finished by stating that there is no place and no excuse for this dirty technology, and that Cork doesn’t need to look to anyone else – “we are trailblazers.”
Following this, Rory Mulcahy came back with a list of public consultation meetings – he read from chapter 1.7.1 of the EIS Vol. 2. This prompted Mary O’Leary to reiterate previous requests that no further documentation be provided by Indaver; if they can refer us to the EIS, please do, as we do not have the time or the money to examine more information.
For lunch I was treated to a half beef by Mamie, bless her. We returned to the hearing to a corrigenda from Indaver; I understand it’s listing incorrect references in a number of documents.
The next submission we heard was from Andrew Collins, a former mechanic, living in Passage West. His wife is from Ringaskiddy, and his daughter now lives there. He gave us a list of four issues he believes have been overlooked.
His first concern was with associated illnesses, mentioning typhoid fever and cancers resulting from having a toxic waste facility so close by, in the hope the Board was aware. Andrew’s second concern related to Weil’s disease. He said that humans could be infected through the soil, through rodent bites, contaminated water, or if you got the bacteria into your eyes or mouth, or through an open wound. It is passed around primarily through rat urine, and they use Gobby Beach, our only beach, as a breeding ground. “We’ll no longer be able to swim or skim stones.”
His third concern was on the HGVs we’ve heard so much about. Andrew said that Indaver expert Niall Harte was “conservative” in his estimate of 30 trucks going in and out of Ringaskiddy. Andrew asked that it be made known the type of truck, the weight of them, and their size. His fourth concern related to waste water mixing with bottom ash – that it could create sulphurous acid. Andrew finished by stating clearly that, “this is an incinerator, not a ‘waste to energy facility’ or a ‘recourse recovery facility’”.
The last speaker was Elizabeth Scandle, who said her husband, Tom, passed on very recently. She lives across the bay from the proposed site, she added. Her submission was a mix of different points, stated briefly but fairly. She told us there are no plans for proper monitoring of emissions to air, and that an incinerator needs few people to run it but an awful lot of waste. “As we know, prevention is better than cure … Don’t let them build it.”
She referenced our declining bee population, of particular concern to myself as my family used to keep bees and the skill has been in my mom’s family for generations. Elizabeth read a poem of Thomas MacDonagh, a signatory of the Proclamation, Of a Poet Patriot, before asking us in earnest not to let the patriots of 1916 die in vain. “Just when things were starting to look up for the Harbour, Indaver come along.” She also spoke of the need for children to have elders to look up to – they learn by example, she added; wisdom comes from age.
Elizabeth finished with a poem she’d written on Gobby Beach. I’m very sorry but I don’t remember the name, as I decided to just sit back and listen to it. The only line I wrote down, the last line, went: The emerald isle is at risk again, from selfish, avaricious men.
We had a ten minute break for Indaver to print out a letter of response to the submission from Frank Kelleher last week. In his objection Frank reiterated the point about the confusion on the many names of Indaver, lack of clarity about who the applicant actually is, and raised the further point that the ownership of the land is registered with a business name and not a legal person, and queried whether this could be valid. The letter essentially seeks to play down the issues.
Finally, we were given a rough schedule of business for next week. Starting Monday it will be all questioning; on Monday we’re to have questions on policy matters, suitability of the site and possible alternatives, plus landscaping and visual impacts. If that can be rounded up in a day, on Tuesday we will have questions on infrastructure (traffic, access to the site, and flooding) and possibly issues on coastal erosion and geology generally. Wednesday is scheduled to be for health, air quality, and other impacts on humans. The next issue will be impacts to nature and cultural heritage.
That’s just a preliminary agenda; issues will be dealt with in that order but not necessarily on the day stated, depending on how long everything takes to debate. My dad Gordon Reid will be taking part in the questioning on health and air pollution. Also, I’ve been asked to remind you that anyone can ask a question, you don’t have to be an expert!
Submissions are now over – please do contact me if I wrote about your submission and there’s something you want changed or added. There is an archive being set up, so if your submission is in digital format please email it to email@example.com