Speech delivered by Jackie Keaney, Commercial Director MSW at the 9th National Waste Management Summit In Association with the Irish Waste Management Association
Indaver call for reopening of oral hearing
29-11-2011 – Indaver call for reopening of Ringaskiddy waste-to-energy oral hearing
Ladies and Gentleman, I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak to you today.
As many of you aware, Indaver is a leading waste management services company, offering specialist treatment solutions in Ireland for over 30 years.
We are probably best known as the operator of Ireland’s first waste-to-energy facility at Duleek, County Meath, and for our proposal to build a similar facility in Ringaskiddy, County Cork.
Today, I will briefly update you on our Meath facility, discuss the impact of waste policy on our work, and review measures to help waste collectors and producers to meet recovery targets.
I will conclude with some comments on our experience of working with local communities.
Before I start, I would like to address a subject many of you here have been asking me about – the status of our proposed Cork facility.
This is a proposal that Indaver has sought to develop for over a decade now.
The most recent development in this process came in May when An Bord Pleanála turned down Indaver’s application.
All of us at Indaver are well used to the ups and downs of the planning process – although our Belgian board is often amused, or should I say confused, by the Irish process.
We felt we put forward a strong proposal.
We felt that domestic and European policies were on our side.
We felt that circumstances on the ground, in particular the deficit in any local solutions, made our proposal a compelling one.
We still do.
Therefore, to get a refusal from the Board was naturally disappointing, particularly since previously, the Board had signalled its preparedness to grant permission.
As we reflected on the refusal, and specifically on the reasons given for the refusal, our disappointment turned to somewhere between surprise and shock.
This was because it came to our attention that the Board’s decision failed to take account of crucial new information that came to light prior to its final determination.
That new information – that the Bottlehill landfill would not proceed and that Cork County Council was withdrawing from the waste business – was first signalled as far back as July 2010.
This development raised serious doubts about claims made fewer than 12 months previously at the oral hearing that the Bottlehill landfill was the solution to Cork’s waste difficulties.
It was clear that the position locally was changing.
By the time it came to make a decision on our application, the original reasons given not to grant permission were not just undermined, they were demolished.
Indaver Ireland had been concerned to ensure that the Board has access to all current, important and relevant information available before making a final decision.
We wrote to this effect to the Board in advance of its final decision.
Then came the decision to reject the application.
A core reason cited for the rejection was that the Cork region was providing its own local waste infrastructure.
The Board’s decision specifically referred to this when it stated that our application was not appropriate (and I quote) ‘having regard to the current strategy of the Cork local authorities in respect of waste management as set out in the submissions of the planning authority in connection with the application, including to the Oral Hearing’.
So, as the Board itself states, its decision was influenced by submissions made and evidence given to the Oral Hearing in 2009.
But all had changed, changed utterly in the intervening two-year period.
Cork County Council had stated openly during that two-year period – in official correspondence, at meetings of elected members, and in the media – that its proposed landfill facility at Bottlehill will not proceed.
It is inconceivable that the Board would not have been aware of these developments.
Yet we cannot be sure.
Many questions arise, but one in particular: did the Board have all the facts when it made its decision?
Indaver cannot answer this question.
That is why, with no other option available to us, we sought to judicially review the decision.
Our application was accepted in July and we are now awaiting a full High Court hearing.
Indaver had no desire to take legal action against the Board.
We still don’t.
But it is the only actual mechanism available to challenge that the Board did not consider the true state of Cork’s waste facilities when it made its decision.
We do not relish a further lengthy legal case and its associated costs.
What we do want, and believe we are entitled to, is a fair hearing, based on all the facts.
No more, no less.
What we now have is an unpalatable stalemate.
All the while, the region remains without the waste facilities it urgently requires.
So how do we overcome this stalemate?
The only way to resolve this issue definitively is to reopen the Board’s oral hearing.
We have always wanted this process to be fair to all. Fair to Indaver, to the local community, to end-users, local authorities and other key stakeholders.
Unfortunately, the failure to consider the full facts has meant this has not happened.
Re-opening the oral hearing offers all parties the opportunity to put all information before the Bord for its ultimate and final decision.
It provides what we have always sought – a fair hearing on the merits of our proposal.
If the hearing is reopened, Indaver will accept the Board’s ultimate decision.
Even if the outcome is not in our favour, we will walk away from this application.
There will be no more court battles.
This application will end.
To us, and to most fair minded people, reopening the hearing to present this crucial evidence it is the most equitable means of concluding this matter.
We remain convinced of the merits of our proposal.
Equally, we accept others do not share this view.
That is their right.
However, whether you are for or against the Ringaskiddy proposal, it is an imperative that all facts are considered before this matter is determined.
We hope this will happen.
Original Source: http://www.indaver.ie/index.php?id=1888&no_cache=1&L=0&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=486