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Cllr Dermot Lacey

Representing Pembroke-South Dock Ward on Dublin City Council
Dermot Lacey is a Labour Party Councillor for the Pembroke-South Dock Ward on Dublin City Council. Dermot has been a member of Dublin City Council since 1993, and lives in Beech Hill, Donnybrook.
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 / Cllr Dermot Lacey ƒ Representing Pembroke-South Dock Ward on Dublin City Council

Poolbeg Peninsula

Article published in Materials Recycling Weekly (UK)

The decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant permission for the development of an Incinerator at Poolbeg flew in the face of all the evidence given at the Oral Hearing and of all logic. Disgracefully it showed contempt for the interests of the local community and sadly it confirmed once again that we do not have a democratic Local Government system in this country. It also demonstrated that we do not have a coherent and  integrated National Waste Strategy but simply a string of local actions hung together by expediency.

For very good reasons the local community opposed this development. They recognized the need to reclaim Dublin Bay for the people of Dublin. They correctly foresaw the impact the huge increase in traffic would have on the local area. Above all the local community saw the folly of developing a huge Industrial complex in an area that in all other respects the Local Authority and the State are trying to develop in a sustainable way. When one considers the massive investment in the new Waste Treatment Plant that has successfully cleaned up Dublin Bay and ally that to the huge investment through the Dublin Docklands Development Master Plan the folly of installing what is in affect a huge Industrial Plant – twice the size of Croke Park shines through. However, as in so many aspects of Irish life, the “experts” who do not have to live with the results of their “expertise” knew best. The Incinerator was pushed through despite the hard practical  evidence.

If we are to avail of Incineration in Ireland – and I have an open mind on that – we must have a degree of honesty and transparency in our decision making. We must bring the community along with us. We must
trust people to come to a balanced decision and we must inform them in advance of the issues. None of this happened in relation to Poolbeg. The siting of any such Incinerator must reflect a common sense approach and generate public trust. The Poolbeg Incinerator achieves neither. It is my view that any such Incinerator should be built on the route of the proposed outer Ring route beyond the M50.  Plan it now and build it now
before people move in. Plan it now and build it now so that all of the new infrastructure along the route can be developed in the context of an existing Incinerator. Design it and build it in the context of an overarching environmentally enhancing plan that will protect the wider Dublin Region while still providing the Incinerator we are told is required.

The proposal to locate an Incinerator at Poolbeg has been opposed at every step of the way by the elected members of Dublin City Council. To describe it as a Dublin City Council project is a travesty of the truth
and a confirmation of the need for radical reform of Local Government. The Waste Management Plan adopted by the City Council in 1998 provided for an examination of Incineration. Contrary to the misrepresentations
since then it did not agree to Incineration and nor did it agree on a proposed location. The Plan was also adopted at a time when the decision on adoption, amendment or rejection of a Waste Management Plan was in the hands of the elected Councillors. Shamefully that power was removed in subsequent legislation.

Opposition to the Incinerator at Poolbeg is not a case of NIMBYism. Though, no doubt, those of us opposed to the project, we will be accused of that. Poolbeg is actually the site of the old City Dump. Ringsend and
Sandymount have taken the city’s dirt for far too many years already. As one Dublin MEP memorably stated “it is not a case that we do not want a dump in the area but rather that the dump is full.” As Lord Mayor of
Dublin some years I demonstrated my willingness to take tough and unpopular decisions on Waste Strategy when they were the right decisions. Locating this plant at Poolbeg is however the wrong approach.

The question as to why any proposed Incinerator should be sited at Poolbeg has never been addressed. City and County Management, no doubt heavily influenced by the Mandarins in the Custom House, simply took the easy option of availing of lands they owned at Poolbeg. No alternatives were ever put forward. No justification as to why that site should be the chosen one. It was a case of “we have decided that Poolbeg in
suitable and that is that.”

The battle against the Incinerator will go on. We will oppose the issuing of a license to the project by the Environmental Protection Agency. We will review all legal options open to us and we will mobilize the local community to ensure that Minister John Gormley uses his alleged influence in Government to deliver to the people of Dublin South East and the people of Dublin. The abandonment of this unwanted and unnecessary Incinerator would be the right decision for Dublin and the right decision for a Green Waste Management Strategy.”

Dermot Lacey is a Labour Party member of Dublin City Council, a former Lord Mayor of Dublin and Cathaoirleach (Chairperson) of the Dublin Regional Authority.

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