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Wednesday 13 December 2017

South City: €2m pouring into Poolbeg local fund despite resident objections

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Dublin City Council's CPO'd land bank for Poolbeg Incinerator off Pidgeon House Rd yesterday.
Dublin City Council's CPO'd land bank for Poolbeg Incinerator off Pidgeon House Rd yesterday.

MORE than €2m is being poured into a community fund set up as part of the plan to build the controversial Poolbeg Incinerator, despite the widespread opposition to the project in the area.

The public-private partnership (PPP) behind the plans is ploughing ahead with the payments and the establishment of a committee to administer the fund, regardless of the objections of local protesters who said they want nothing to do with the cash.

The Poolbeg incinerator has had a troubled past since it was first proposed 17 years ago.

Dublin city councillors have rejected plans for the 600,000-tonne waste-to-energy plant on 30 occasions and it has already cost the council €105m.

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That investment would have been lost if they plant did not get the final go-ahead last September.

Construction on the plant - a joint project between Dublin City Council and contractors Covanta - began in November.

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The establishment of the community gain fund and the committee was one of the conditions, set down by both An Bord Pleanala and the Environmental Protection Agency, in granting the licence for the incinerator.

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However, locals are snubbing the cash injection and are still campaigning to have the project stopped over fears about the impact on their health.

"The community still totally opposes this [the incinerator] and have no intention in involving ourselves in funds," said Frances Corr of the Combined Residents Against Incineration (CRAI) group.

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"Our health is our wealth and it is not for sale at any cost," she added.

Despite the local opposition, a Dublin City Council spokesperson confirmed that €1,149,176 has already been lodged into the community fund by the PPP company Dublin Waste to Energy Limited and told the Herald that another €991,385 will be lodged on April 30.

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A total of €10m will be poured into the fund over the three-year construction period and no more than €600,000-a -year thereafter.

On Monday, councillors were given a report by Council officials about setting up the committee that will administer the fund.

It is to be made up of three councillors and three members of the community.

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Labour councillor Dermot Lacey was one of five public representatives that expressed an interest.

"There is €2.1m there for the community and you cannot cut off your nose to spite your face. It would be silly not to maximise any gains," he said.

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However, Independent councillor Mannix Flynn remains opposed to the plant refusing to put his name forward for the committee.

"We are in dangerous waters here as there is a potential clash of interests and while I am all for community gain funds, I think issues need to be ironed out.

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"As soon as you start accessing this money you're accepting that something that you fought against will go ahead," said Cllr Flynn.

An invitation to join the committee is to go out to the public in the next two weeks.

The Poolbeg incinerator is due to be completed by January 2018 at a construction cost of €500m.

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