Minister asked to review need for more incinerators in Limerick

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Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea

THE application for a licence to allow for the incineration of waste at the Irish Cement plant in Mungret should be refused, Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea has said.

Speaking to the Limerick Post this week, he said that his view was consistent with Environment Minister Eamon Ryan’s ambitious strategy to tackle waste and move towards a circular economy, including a move away from waste disposal and treatment.

“I have asked the Minister to accept that there will be no need for increased incineration facilities in Ireland. I have also put it to him that as a result of these new measures, the application for a licence to allow for the incineration of waste at the Irish Cement plant in Limerick should be refused.

“I succeeded in having a motion passed in the Dáil which prioritised the prevention and recycling of waste over incineration. The motion also supported the implementation of a community-led zero-waste policy to reduce the consumption of plastic and to encourage alternative forms of recycling, waste disposal and measures to further encourage the development of the circular economy.”

Deputy O’Dea welcomed the fact that the Minister was following through with ambitious new targets to tackle waste and move towards a circular economy, including a shift in focus away from waste disposal and treatment. These policies, he believes, should make the idea of an incinerator in Limerick redundant.

“If the cement factory in Mungret becomes an incinerator and Minister Ryan is successful with his plan to tackle waste, the net result of this is that we would have to import other people’s waste to keep the incinerator going. In other words, we will be moving from landfill to incineration, but we will be burning not only our own waste but other people’s waste.

“An incinerator needs to be fed for 20 to 30 years, and in order to be economical it needs an enormous input. So, for 20 to 30 years you stifle innovation, you stifle alternatives, just in order to feed that monster which you have built,” he claimed.

He went onto say that even if incineration could be made safe, “it could never be made sensible”. He maintains that it does not make ethical or economic sense to spend so much time, money and effort destroying materials that we should be sharing with the future.

“There is increasing public resistance to incineration. A vote in the European Parliament supports the notion that no material can be burned in incineration if it can be recycled or composted. This amounts to more than 90 per cent of waste, which would virtually rule out the building of new incinerators in Europe and force the closure of several existing ones.

“In the United States, not one new trash incinerator has been allowed for the past 25 years, since 1995. In that period, 300 proposals have been put forward for such incinerators and all have been rejected.

“Incineration has a devastating impact on public health. In light of his new ambitious waste reduction targets, I am calling on Minister Ryan to put a stop to the proposal for an incinerator in Limerick,” he concluded.