Wednesday, 6 February 2008
National Waste Strategy: Statements
Fiona O'Malley (Progressive Democrats)
I am pleased to participate in this debate because we need an honest discussion about the Government's waste management policy, what we are doing and how we can improve the situation.
Senator Mullen referred to a sense of responsibility. I am not sure Ireland has always had a sense of responsibility in this area. I refer to our attitude to incineration. I am interested in what Senator de Búrca said about how there is an over-provision in terms of incineration. She may have a point. In view of the delicate political issues around incineration and where to locate an incinerator, which nobody wants in his or her backyard, the result is the provision of a multiplicity of smaller ones that perhaps we do not need. The trouble is who will be left with the one or two bigger incinerators.
There is a fair amount of controversy in Ringaskiddy about the commercial incinerator project there and people do not want another municipal facility in the area. What disappoints me is that people shy away from a sense of responsibility in terms of incineration and not just because of their political views. If we were honest every one of us would acknowledge incineration has to be part of a waste management strategy. Where an incinerator is to be located is another matter.
I listened to a radio report approximately six months ago that focused on waste management and waste facilities. On that same day reference was made in the news about the attempt by Indaver Ireland to expand the capacity of its site in Meath. A discussion took place on the pros and cons of that proposal. Discussion also focused on an application before Galway County Council to extend a landfill site. Most of us are familiar with landfill sites as nobody lives too far away from one. At the end of the debate I realised I knew which one I would rather live beside and it certainly was not the landfill site, which I would consider to be far more dangerous.
Much has to do with how landfill sites are treated. I accept that they are highly licensed now. Senator de Búrca referred to the dangerous situation that arose when landfill sites were pre-licensed. They did not all become safe just because we began to license them. Years upon years of waste and extremely dangerous materials have gone into landfill sites. It is highly irresponsible to present the opening of an increased number of landfill sites as being the answer. I do not think it is. I accept incineration is controversial but it would be helpful if we had a calm debate in which the facts were aired we would come around to the realisation that it is the safest and cleanest method of tackling the problem of waste.