Full Council discussion on the Chief Executive’s Report into the Indaver Ireland Strategic Infrastructure application, 11th April 2016

Planning & Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act, 2006:
 SID Application – Waste to Energy Facility at Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork.

CE: Within 10 weeks of the planning application, the local authority will submit a report to the Board.   The purpose of the report is to set out the impact of the proposal on the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

The Members may by resolution attach recommendations to the report of the local authority.

The report, including any resolution of Council, must be submitted to and received by the Board by Wednesday 13th April. The oral hearing is to commence on 19th April.

My report sets out our assessment in detail. It includes the technical reports provided by people within the organisation.

The planning report sets out the relevant planning issues and Cork County Council’s assessment of these. It specifically mentions ZU3-7, which says that waste to energy is appropriate in industrial areas designated as Strategic Employment Areas.

The report concludes that the proposed development is acceptable in principle.

The Chief Executive goes through the conclusion section of the report.

The report is technically for the information of Members.

Information pertaining to the development has been on public display since the planning application was lodged.

Cllr Forde (FG): Thanks Mayor and CE for comprehensive report. Regrettable that we find ourselves in this position yet again. We’re elected by the people for the people. The people have said no to this facility. Over 220 objections have gone in. They include objections from TDs, objections from PDFORRA, over 1,000 residents, HSE, An Taisce. Doesn’t understand what part of NO Indaver doesn’t understand. This is the wrong site. With over €80m invested in upgrading facilities and tourism in the Harbour, this is setting our face against ourselves. It is not ok that our voice would not be heard at An Bord Pleanála. Have had issues with An Bord Pleanála but hopes that they will at last see sense and support what we say.

Cllr McGrath (FF): This is a very serious debate in the Chamber. This project is back after multiple attempts. This development would have catastrophic consequences for the local community and beyond. We had a similar debate 5 years ago. The executive put forward a much more negative report five years ago. Regrets that the report is not more negative.

The report is an analysis of the application. It sets out conditions and further information but doesn’t take a strong stance or verdict. That is deeply regrettable. The policy context has changed. This is not through anything we have done. Our verdict was overruled by Minister Coffey by direct intervention. That was a disgraceful intervention and puts us at a disadvantage in fighting this application. There are other changes which have been beneficial to communities in fighting the application. Enormous money has gone into developing tourism attractions in Cork Harbour. Putting an incinerator in the heart of Cork Harbour is completely incompatible with what we are trying to do at other levels. Doesn’t understsand how the Council did not put that in their report.

The road is at breaking point. The Port of Cork has been given permission in the last couple of years. The Shannonpark Masterplan will come on stream. The road network should have been much stronger in the CE’s report. The new road is at best 6 years off.

The specific reasons for refusal the last time have not gone away. Flooding, coastal erosion: they are more apparent than ever with climate change underway.

It is over to us as councillors to do the right thing. Proposes that we take a stand and reject this application. Existing refusal reasons still stand. Infrastructural inadequacy. Incompatability with promotion of Cork Harbour as a tourist destination. Unfairness to the community in fighting this over and over again.

The easiest thing to do is to burn our rubbish and burn our waste. It is much harder to set good policy that actually enforces the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle.


Cllr Sheppard (FG): Cobh is not mentioned in this report. The Cobh Municipal District had to fight to have people talk to us as an Municipal District about this. The Harbour has changed so much. The East Tip about to be cleaned. This is a disgraceful application. The people of Cobh have been left out. When does no mean no? This is my first time on a County Council since this has come up. Finds it extraordinary that we are not being harder on this. We need to put in a grouping of being totally opposed to this application. Need to send out a strong message that we are all united on being completely opposed to this incinerator going into a harbour that we are so proud of and depend on wholly for so many things.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Thanks for the report but it is woefully inadequate. The report says that the incinerator proposal is in line with the Southern Region Waste Management Plan. In this it is correct. It says that it is in line with the change enforced by the Section 31 Direction on our County Development Plan and in that it is of course correct also. But what the report does not reflect is that with every waste treatment process, regardless of what it is, there are negative effects on the locality. A responsible operator and legislation will try to mitigate these but the very best form of mitigation is to start at the start in choosing the right site. The importance of this has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation, by the Health Research Board, by the Environmental Protection Agency and by the Southern Region Waste Management Plan.

The Word Health Organisation has outlined areas which are generally unsatisfactory for hazardous incinerator developments. They include coastal areas subject to floods and areas with limestone deposits. This site falls into that category. It goes on to list exclusionary criteria; areas which are inherently unsuitable for such incinerators. They include areas with unstable or weak soils such as soft clay. This site has that. They include areas with saturated soils such as found in coastal environments. This site is that. They include areas that flood. This site floods. They include areas with atmospheric conditions such as inversions that prevent emissions from dispersing properly. This site is in such an area. They include historic locations or structures, locations of archaeological significance. This site is in such a location. They include sites close to stationary populations. This site is such a site, with the National Maritime College merely 20 metres from its boundary.

Indaver bought this site in 2000 when Cork Harbour was a very different place. They bought it from the receiver of Irish Ispat and set about making it work.

At the time, the site was attractive because it was close to the pharmachem centre in Ringaskiddy and a major centre of hazardous waste production. But even in 2008, this was changing. Many of the industries have moved from chemical to biological based processes. Most of those who still use chemical based manufacture have their own incinerators. And in any event, the incinerator that is proposed this time round for Ringaskiddy is the wrong technology to treat strong hazardous wastes coming from the Ringaskiddy pharmachems.

Indaver says the site is suitable because it is close to Cork City, a centre of waste generation. But the site is at the very bottom of the south of the county and on the wrong side of the River Lee. This incinerator is to treat all waste being produced outside of the eastern region. We could see waste coming from as far north as Donegal to this plant and all of it will come through the Jack Lynch Tunnel.

Indaver says the site is good because it is close to good emergency services. It doesn’t matter how good the emergency services are if they cannot get to the site. The site is at the end of a cul de sac to which there is only one road in and one road out. If there is an explosion, as there was in recent weeks in the Indaver flagship facility in Antwerp, the emergency services will have to approach the fire to tackle it. Site selection is supposed to minimise risk.

Indaver says the site is suitable in terms of geology and hydrogeology. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gobby Beach is a recognised earthcache. That means that people come from all over the world to this beach to learn about geology. Even when I was a student in UCC, my class was taken to Gobby Beach. But the coastline is eroding and the coastal protection measures Indaver proposes will destroy the geology of Gobby.

From a hydrogeological point of view, the couldn’t be worse. Even the Environmental Impact Statement says that landslides may occur during construction and that the groundwater is extremely vulnerable.

Indaver says that the site is suitable in terms of housing and sensitive locations. But the National Maritime College is just 20 metres from the boundary of the site. It cost €52m to build, has 60 staff and nearly 800 students. UCC’s Beaufort facility is next door. It is the largest marine energy research group in the world. It cost €15m and has 135 staff in research.

The Naval Base is 500 metres away. All the 1,000 personnel on the Naval Base would have to pass the site when going to Haulbowline Island. And Imerc is the latest collaboration between the three. Imerc is a national research centre responding to EU maritime policy which aims to produce 70 new research jobs by the end of this year.

And that’s not to mention the 45,000 people living within a 5 km radius of the site.

Where the CE’s report does the greatest disservice is possibly in the discussion of visual impact. In the County Development Plan, Cork Harbour is described as a key tourism asset. They are the words used. They are not mentioned in the CE’s report. The Carrigaline Electoral Area Local Area Plan says that Cork Harbour tourism is a significant industry. That Cobh Cathedral and the Cobh Heritage Centre are key tourist attractions of national importance with significant numbers of visitors eveyr year. That’s not mentioned in the CE’s report. Nor that the visiting cruise liners bring in over 100,000 people each year. Cork County Council’s planned development of Spike Island aims to attract 100,000 visitors each year. It will have a concert venue to hold 6,000 people, all of whom will park their cars on the rehabilitated Haulbowline Island. All of them will have to pass the incinerator site.

The Local Area Plan says that “it is clear that as a recreational resource, the Harbour cannot be underestimated”. But it notes that water access is increasingly difficult and that waterside sites are subsumed by activities which don’t need water access. This is one such activity. The CE’s report doesn’t mention this. Nor does it mention RCI 9-1(a) in the County Development Plan which has an aim to “encourage developers to recognise the limited capacity of many coastal areas for accommodating development on a large scale”.

The Local Area Plan says that “the tourism industry relies on the quality and attractiveness of the built and natural heritage”. The Spike Island Masterplan which we as a Council commissioned, says that maintaining a high quality environment both on land and in the water is a “vital issue” to building on the natural heritage that is Cork Harbour. The CE’s report doesn’t mention that either.

But the CE’s report does tell us that the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan recommends a national 50,000 tonne incinerative capacity for us to become self-sufficient in hazardous waste management. And it is wrong. That was what the old National Hazardous Waste Maangement Plan said. The new one says that we need incineration if we want to be self-suffficent in hazardous waste managemnet but because there is such overapacity in the incinerators in Europe, if operators think it is more profitable to travel abroad, they can.

The CE’s report doesn’t comment on the climate change implications of the development at all, something we have commited to strongly in the County Development Plan. Nor does it mention odour. It talks about lots of other things, but not odour. Odour is that which is most complained about from Indaver’s existing incinerator at Duleek, Co. Meath.

I could say lots more, but what I do want to say before I finish is that I along with other members of the community, wrote to the CE and to the Senior Planner when they were preparing this report. But our letters were sent back to us. You said the correct repository for our concerns was An Bord Pleanala. We knew we had to make submissions to the Board, but you are the guardians of our county and we trust you to look after it on our behalf. We have been involved in this for a very long time and wanted to share with you what we have learned and how we feel. I am truly very sad that we were not permitted to engage on this in any way.


Cllr O’Grady (SF): Very concerned about toxic residues. The community that is based around the harbour are going to be put out if this development goes ahead. Planning has been refused twice. They have a brass neck to come back a third time . But they are going through the legislative process and there is nothing we can do about it. The site is totally unsuitable and we hope that An Bord Pleanala will recognise that. The people of Cork and Cork County Council all want Cork Harbour to be a clean harbour promoting research and tourism. It is unsuitable because the site is too small, because of the traffic, and it is most unsuitable because it is going to cause emissions and pollution due to industrial accidents. Has two questions. Firstly, further information was sought from Indaver. Was that provided? Also have Council officials sat down with Indaver to discuss this planning application?

Cllr Desmond (FF): Supports the previous speakers. The farce of this was that the only vote we had to take on our County Development Plan was in relation to the wording of this objective. Has a huge issues with this from a democracy point of view. We knew exactly what we were doing. We wanted to close the door on a planning application that we knew was imminent. We have had over 30,000 objections in the previous two applications. The fact that we are back a third time is an affront. It is bullying. The local residents have put everything they have: time, energy, resources into opposing this. Indaver said the last time that they would respect the democratic decision and walk away. They didn’t. They went to the High Court. Now they are going through the planning process and we are facilitating it. Our own CASP strategy says Ringaskiddy would be a superb location for a technopole. You couldn’t get any further from this than an incinerator. As a growth hub, it will stop if we let developments like this go ahead. If the incinerator were to go ahead, it would irreversibly damage Cork Harbour as an amenity. It would pose an unacceptable risk to people living and working in the earea. This isn’t just a Ringaskiddy problem. This is a huge conceern for Cork Harbour as a whole.

Cllr Murphy (SF): Supports all the previous speakers. Everything is always landed down our direction. It is time the people were listened to.

Cllr McCarthy (FG): Agrees with all the previous speakers. Doesn’t claim to be an expert. But all the other councillors have mentioned infrastructure, coastal erosion, wind factor (emissions will affect Cobh and Midleton). Wants to focus on the visual impact. This is an 8 storey building – 11,255 sq m. It would be at a height of 45.7 m on an elevated site entering our beautiful harbour. Cannot undertsand how we are even contemplating this. Very recently at Cork Airport we launched the Cork Tourism Strategy report. The two do not correspond in any way. This is our potential tourism going forward. This is what we have to concentrate on. We have to make sure there is not a monster between the Martello Tower and Spike Island. These things should be safeguarded for generations to come. If this thing is built, we can’t unbuild it. Don’t care if it is a fishing trawler or a cruise liner coming in, this is not good for our harbour.

Cllr Barry (FG): Supports what councillors have said. Has a concern that there is another industry springing from Whitegate around to Kinsale. That is agriculture. We know we have spoken in the Chamber about how we are trying to expand this over the next 10 years. Has concerns that the international perception would alter from the green, clean image when an unnecessary incinerator comes into our harbour.

Cllr Rasmussen (Lab): How many times do we have to put up with this? The developmet is too big, there is traffic, coastal erosion, etc. Report might be glossy …


I had to leave the Chamber at this point.


Cllr K McCarthy (Ind): … These are the people and they should be listened to. Cobh has been decimated in the last few years and it has suffered major job losses. Cobh is using tourism to get back on its feet. Why would we put this monstrosity in the middle of the harbour? Cobh has one of the highest cancer rates in the country. Why would we welcome this? Indaver proposes to bring death and destruction to our community.

Cllr Jeffers (SF): Solidarity with people of Ringaskiddy and surrounding communities who have given so much to opposing this. Great that Cork Harbour has come on so much and we would be a laughing stock if we give permission to this.

Spoke about the impact of transport on what is an already congested road network.

There were 19 emission breaches in the Indaver Duleek plant, mostly of CO which is a poisonous gas.

Cllr Hayes (SF): Supports the resolution against the proposed development. Cllr D’Alton gave a compelling argument against the plans. Dilution of democracy and slight of hand to let this application go through at this third attempt. As Cllr Desmond says, it is not an area relevant to just East Cork. At Clonakilty Town Council, he introduced a motion congratulating Cork County Council and CHASE on opposing the toxic waste incinerator. The motion was passed and nothing has changed since. Wishes the best for the residents and hopes it will be put to bed once and for all now.

Cllr Conway (Ind): Comments on a previous application whichw as to go in front of the Board. This is an erosion of democracy. This isn’t just bigger than a county problem, it is a national problem. Thanks for the report but there are many areas which have not been covered in it. Many were pointed out by Cllr D’Alton. This development has been discussed ad infitium over many years. We are representing the people and we need to start listening to them. Have seen this repeated in many parts of the country over many years. There are so many things wrong with this application.

Cllr Ryan (FF): Agrees with all the previous speakers and the very many reasons why this proposed incinerator is not acceptable for Cork Harbour. Is it economically viable to have an incinerator of this size and capacity for the island of Ireland. Many experts say no. If we allow an incinerator to be built in the second largest natural harbour in the world, we will become the waste bin of Europe. To make this huge investment for this company viable, they will have to import waste into Cork Harbour. Is that something we want? Doesn’t believe that we should support this venture in any shape or form.

Cllr O’Donnabhain (FF): Every single voice this morning is in opposition. There are voices of concern from residents. Who do you compare the Indaver executives to? The former CEs of Anglo Irish Bank. They have had two gos and they are back for a third. It is an affront to the democratic process. This is a comprehensive report. Believes it could be more critical in terms of the background of the company, the application and there is a positive lean in favour of the application throughout the report. We cannot get away from the biggest issue – health.

Cllr K Murphy (FG): Ringskiddy is not far removed from Kinsale. Part of the Kinsale-Bandon area stretches into Crosshaven. We had a meeting this morning and the parties decided that they are totally and absolutely opposed to Indaver at Ringaskiddy. All Members here have objected to it and to the proposal. Is disappointed that the CE’s report has taken the approach it has to the application.

Cllr Coleman (Ind): The administrative system and how we deal with applications will be brought into disrepute because we are allowing this application to come back a third time. Every development has a shelf life – this one has gone well past its shelf life. Is concerned that there is an impression that the system is being manipulated to facilitate it. Read the letter we received from CHASE. Was interested to see the importance being attached to tourism. Still feels industry still has a huge part to play in the Lower Harbour.

Is concerned that this proposal and the way it has been dragged out may bring new industrial development into disrepute. Even people who supported Indaver in the early days are getting cheesed off with Indaver just banging away with a proposal that is unaccetpable.

Cllr Harris (Ind): On health and safety grounds alone, it wil be rejected because it has a 50 mile pollution radius. We wouldn’t be here at all if it wasn’t for the sale of the site by the receiver.   There are no regulations attached to how receivers operate. Taxis are regulated and I cannot understand why receivers are not. Apparently anyone can be a receiver and we wouldn’t be in this position at all if they were properly regulated.

Cllr N Collins (Ind): Incinerators – excess capacity that would attract waste from abroad. Do we want to turn Cork Harbour into another dump for another company? Pharmachem companies will no longer be able to export any waste and they will not be able to find the most economic outlets for their waste. Indaver is trying to use the big stick of job creation. But so many clean technologies would provide long-term jobs. Biotechnology is the sort of industry we want in Cork Harbour. Fire fighting services could not deal with a fire on the site; the site is in danger of flooding and erosion. The site is wrong and nothing is going to change it.

Cllr Hurley (Ind): Supporting the motion.

Cllr Lombard (FG): Endorses what Cllr Murphy said. Bandon-Kinsale should have been involved. Should have had consultation. From the agricultural point of view, people like the IFA locally would have had issues with this. There has to be confidence with what we do in the lower harbour.

Cllr Twomey (SF): Opposes the proposal and cannot believe that planning is being considered after massive public opposition.

Cllr Linehan-Foley (Ind): Nobody knows better than the people living in the harbour. If the people don’t want it, we support them in that.

CE: Clarifies that on 19th Feb, the executive made a full presentation to Council at Development Committee. We attended two Municipal District meetings. Acknowledges Cobh had to ask for one. Both Municipal Districts got a briefing from the Senior Planner. The process is that objections are submitted to the Board. There is no provision within the process for that. Neither is there opportunity for anyone to submit to the County Council while the CE’s report is being prepared. The County Council has had no meeting with the applicants since the application was lodged. Is not going to meet with any other interested parties either. That upholds the integrity of this process. We haven’t looked for further information. We have suggested that the Board would ask for this if they require further information.

Matters in relation to fire access, fire safety, etc. are all dealt with through a separate process. Applicants have to apply for a fire safety certificate after getting planning. We have recommended a condition attached to fire safety. There is also a process for environmental licensing which deals with odour, etc.

All reports have been done with the technical expertise from the executive. Nobody has an obligation to report in any particular way. They come through the Senior Planner. It is a highly regulated process to ensure integrity is maintained.

Independent reports done by the …. Reads out the in-house specialists who did the appendices.


Meetings administrator:
Five reasons were proposed by resolution to outline why Members reject this application. It was agreed that these stand:

Coastal erosion
Infastructural deficiency
Incompatiability with promotion of Cork Harbour as a tourist recreational amenity
Unfairness on local people in having to oppose this application for a third time.

The minutes of the Members’ discussion will also be forwarded to the Board.