Irish business complains of waste crisis

"No outlet" for industrial waste as local authorities close landfills but refuse incineration

Efforts to modernise Ireland's waste management infrastructure are failing the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) has claimed. The association complains that negotiations to agree local waste management plans are either collapsing or plans are being approved that simultaneously restrict use of landfill and outlaw incineration. It has called for creation of a national waste authority and is urging authorities to accept modern incinerators as "a safe and effective option for treating waste".

IBEC's strongly-worded statement follows a decision by Galway county council, to close a key landfill site to industrial waste from 1 February, leaving no industrial waste disposal options at all in the county. The association warns that the situation is likely to be repeated in other parts of the country as "landfill sites face closure without an alternative being proposed".

Industry's frustration appears to be shared by Irish environment minister, Noel Dempsey, who last autumn pressed local authorities to come up with waste plans as required by EU law and criticised many that had already done so for putting forward "politically correct" proposals that depended on unrealistic recycling rates and success in waste minimisation (ENDS Daily 24 October 2000).

IBEC's key complaint is that councils are showing a strong reluctance to endorse any expansion of waste incineration. "Ireland will be unable to meet its international obligations" without "some measure" of thermal waste treatment, says IBEC. The country "willingly agreed to accept EU requirements in this regard, but when hard choices have to be made everyone runs for cover".

Meanwhile, the Irish Times newspaper reported today that Mr Dempsey is to propose legislation to allow county managers to push through construction of new waste management facilities, including incinerators, if plans agreed by local elected officials do not provide sufficient facilities.

Follow Up:
IBEC, tel: +353 1 660 1011; Irish environment ministry, tel: +353 1 888 2000.

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