Thursday, 25 May 2006
Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Bill 2006 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed).
John Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
The Minister, Deputy McDowell, has capitulated completely to Fianna Fáil and its policy of building incinerators all over the country and, in particular, in our constituency, where it is proposed to build Europe's largest incinerator, which is expected to process 600,000 tonnes or more of waste annually. The desire to fast-track the legislation bodes poorly for the future because monitoring of its implementation is not ensured. The largest sewage treatment plant in Europe, which was supported by local residents, is located in my constituency but the developers made a mess of it. The odours in the area are appalling. While the legislation provides for fast-tracking of projects, it does not provide for transparency and accountability.
When planning applications are heard by An Bord Pleanála, one can have all the good reasons one likes for opposing a development but if it is Government policy, the objections will be forgotten. During the appeal on the Ringaskiddy toxic incinerator, the inspector gave 14 reasons it should not proceed but the board overruled him. That is neither good planning nor democratic. It smacks of a dictatorship where one railroads one's proposals through and that is the basis for the legislation.
I am concerned about Schedule 7, which refers to "a thermal power station or other combustion installation with a total energy output of 300 MW or more". I would like the Government to amend this provision by inserting the words "excluding nuclear power". Legislation, which was amended on foot of a Green Party proposal, is in place to prevent the construction of a nuclear power station but I am not convinced by recent statements by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The Minister, the Taoiseach and others have been completely over the top in their statements about nuclear power recently. "Methinks they doth protest too much" because they have said such power is horrific. If they believe that, they should accept my proposed amendment. The last thing we need is the fast-tracking of a nuclear power station.