June 20: Heffernan lambasts Council over gasification plant

The installation of a new gasification unit at the waste recycling at Gortadroma landfill site in West Limerick was raised in the Upper House by Limerick Independent Senator James Heffernan.

The installation of a new gasification unit at the waste recycling at Gortadroma landfill site in West Limerick was raised in the Upper House by Limerick Independent Senator James Heffernan.

“It is of huge concern, especially to the people of West Limerick but also throughout the county,” he said.

“I do not want to see my county being treated as a dump. People have had to live next door to Gortadroma for the past 20 years and the local authority was well aware of the problems associated with it.

If the Minister of State (Ann Phelan) drives around the area she will see shells of houses which people have left. The property is worthless. Those people had to leave the area. Having put up with that over all those years, the communities are now expected to lie down and take this huge gasification unit which will be built on their doorstep.”

Senator Heffernan said the justification for this is it will be an economic driver in the area which will create jobs, that the council will get a huge sum in rent - between €3m and €5m per year - and that everything is fine with this.

“That is not the feeling of the people in the area. It is my duty and that of every public representative to represent the public but that has not happened in this instance.

“It is one year since the amalgamation of Limerick County and City Councils. The Putting People First document, published by the Department of the Environment, is the biggest oxymoron I have ever heard in respect of issues such as this because people have not been put first in this instance, quite the contrary.”

Senator Heffernan said Council meetings in Limerick have become a circus since the amalgamation of the city and county local authorities.

“This was put down to teething problems but the situation has not improved at all,” he said.

“Issues such as this, with potentially huge effects on the people of the area, were not discussed. There was no presentation on gasification to all council members when they voted on the disposal notice.”

In response, Minister of State Phelan said national waste policy is predicated on the management of waste in line with the waste hierarchy as set out in Article 4 of the waste framework directive of 2008.

“Gasification and incineration with energy recovery occupy the same tier of the waste hierarchy, called ‘other recovery’, and national waste policy does not favour one particular technology over the other in this instance,” she said.

“Similarly, while the waste management plans that were recently launched by the regional groupings of local authorities support the development of up to 300,000 tonnes of future additional thermal recovery capacity at a national level, the plans do not differentiate between different thermal recovery technologies.”

IRBC Commission to report by 31 December - Noonan

The work of the Commission of Investigation into certain decisions, transactions and activities entered into by the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation will be focused on the areas where significant public concern has arisen, Finance Michael Noonan told the Dáil.

Opening a debate on the Terms of Reference of the Commission, he said the Taoiseach was authorised to appoint the sole member of the Commission.

“The draft order and terms of reference provide for the performance of an investigation into certain activities of IBRC and the production of a report by 31 December 2015, in line with the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004,” he said.

“The Commission will also have the authority to report on any other matters arising from the investigation and to make any further recommendations as the Commission sees fit.”

Minister Noonan said the review will consider all transactions, activities and management decisions, other than those relating solely to the acquisition of assets by the National Asset Management Agency, which occurred between 21 January 2009, being the date of the nationalisation of IBRC and 7 February 2013, being the date of the appointment of the special liquidators to IBRC.

And which either: resulted in a capital loss to IBRC of at least €10 million during the relevant period, whether by consequence of a single transaction or of a series of transactions relating to the same borrower or entities controlled by the same borrower.

Or are specifically identified by the Commission as giving rise or likely to give rise to potential public concern, in respect of the ultimate returns to the taxpayer.