THE MANAGER of Limerick’s joint local authorities has re-iterated Limerick County Council’s plan to shut down the Gortadroma dump, the largest landfill in the Mid West, at the end of next year amid rising costs and a falling waste intake.
Conn Murray said that the West Limerick dump will reach full capacity at the end of 2013, at which point operations will cease after a controversial two decades.
However the council will remain tied in to expensive site management and after care at the site for the next 30 years, which is expected to cost at least €6 million.
In his 2013 county council budget report, Mr Murray said that while the council expects an increase in revenue of almost €2 million from Gortadroma next year, it will wind down the facility at the end of 2013 due to rising levies and falling tonnage.
“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.
The council previously had to abandon attempts to sell the dump, as several interested bodies in the private sector were unwilling to take on the dump’s various liabilities, including an estimated €200,000 a year for after care for the next 30 years.
Mr Murray said that the council expects to generate €13.6 million from Gortadroma next year, up from a total of €11.7 million in 2012. However, this will be mostly offset by an increase in running costs to €12.6 million, up from €11.5 million.
Mr Murray said that the levy which the council has to pay the Government for every tonne of waste sent to landfill is set to rise to €75 next year, compared to just €15 per tonne in 2007.
As a result, the per-tonne charge to dump waste is to rise to €100 from €80, while the fixed charge per car entry cost at the facility is to rise from €14.76 to €17.
This forms part of a broader strategy to divert waste away from landfill nationally. Next July, the amount of organic waste which can be landfilled falls to 40% from 55%.
Next year, the council expects to take in 130,000 tonnes of waste at Gortadroma, down from 138,000 this year. This will bring the current landfill site to capacity, and Mr Murray said that the council does not intend to apply for a new extension to the facility.
“In the absence of a large increase in gate fees, the option to construct new cells [dumping space] remains non-viable. Therefore the plan to close the landfill when the current developed cells are full remains in place”.
He cited a number of factors in the decision to shut down the West Limerick facility, which was first opened amid community objections and protests some twenty years ago.
As well as increased Government charges and new EPA rules, landfills across the country have suffered from private sector competition, alternative waste treatment technologies and the broader economic downturn, particularly in the construction industry.