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Incinerator work close to restarting

THE resumption of work on the Poolbeg incinerator is edging closer but certain issues remain outstanding, Dublin City Council has said.

The local authority said it was continuing negotiations with US company Covanta, its partner in the stalled project, "with a view to resumption of work on site".

It supplied the information to Labour councillor Maria Parodi -- an opponent of the plant -- who pointed out that the deadline for a decision is May 2.

However, the council said: "It is not known at this stage if all issues will have been finalised by the upcoming date."

It said it had the option of further extending the date to allow discussions on any outstanding issues. The project has been the focus of stringent opposition in Ringsend and Sandymount, with local representatives also coming out against the plan.

Former Environment Minister and Dublin South East TD John Gormley has been one of the most vocal opponents.

Extracts of a report he published last month stated taxpayers may be forced to shoulder financial penalties of up to €350m for the incinerator.

Dublin's four local authorities could be exposed to penalties of €187.4m to €350.7m over 25 years, it was claimed.

Senior counsel John Hennessy, who was commissioned by Mr Gormley to write the report, concluded the council's contractual obligation of delivering a specified amount of waste to the incinerator each year could prove very costly.

The so-called 'put-or-pay' clause with Covanta could cost as much as €14m a year over 25 years in a "worst case scenario".

Mr Hennessy said this situation would arise if the volume of waste going to the incinerator fell by 1pc a year and recycling rates increased by 3pc, while Dublin local authorities' share of the waste market fell by 3pc per annum.

However, the city council has received planning permission from An Bord Pleanala, and a waste licence from the Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition, it has permission from the Commission for Energy Regulation to generate energy.

comurphy@herald.ie