Council to mull over private sector interest in Limerick landfill

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Gortadroma dump
LIMERICK County Council has received “about a dozen” expressions of interest from the private sector about potential uses for the Gortadroma landfill, which is to close at the end of the year.

LIMERICK County Council has received “about a dozen” expressions of interest from the private sector about potential uses for the Gortadroma landfill, which is to close at the end of the year.

Director of environment services, Caroline Curley, said that “all options will be considered” for the future use of the West Limerick site, including potential for wind turbines, renewable energy and other development.

The dump, which is the largest in the Mid West, is to cease operations at the end of 2013 when it reaches its current capacity limit. While revenues from the site have increased in recent years in tandem with a fall in per-tonne processing costs, a broader national strategy to divert waste away from landfill means that extending the dump is not financially viable.

Ms Curley told a meeting of Limerick County Council this Monday that the latest proposals for future use of the site by outside parties are to be considered by the council’s consultants, and a progress report will be published later.

In 2011 the council abandoned attempts to sell the site as a going concern, as a number of interested parties were put off by the potential for future liabilities, as well as annual site maintenance costs of up to €200,000 per year for the next 30 years.

The council recently sought fresh expressions of interest for the use of the site by the private sector, such as its lease to renewable energy firms. It is understood that the council has accepted that the dump’s legacy issues will make a full sale of the site unlikely.

Ms Curley told Monday’s meeting that the council will seek to offset its future maintenance costs at Gortadroma by some private sector use. “The intention is that we will at least cover our costs... but it’s very early days yet”.

In response to a question about the current status of the dump by Cllr Liam Galvin, Ms Curley confirmed that a total of 129,390 tonnes of waste were processed at the facility in 2012, compared to 39,578 tonnes in 2007. During the same period, disposal costs per tonne fell from €90.36 to €50.75.

However in his budget report for 2013, county manager Conn Murray reiterated the decision to shut Gortadroma at the end of the year.

“Landfill is no longer the primary waste disposal option for the future. A number of factors have combined to make the continuing operation of Gortadroma no longer attractive”, Mr Murray said.