Seanad debates

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

National Waste Strategy: Statements


5:00 pm

Photo of John Paul PhelanJohn Paul Phelan (Fine Gael)

I did not realise the debate was due to resume. I thank Senator Burke for sharing time. I have changed my position a little on incineration. However, I echo the sentiments of Senator Coffey and Senator Burke on the regional waste management strategies. The proposal that emerged when these strategies were drawn up was that there would be eight or nine incinerators, one in each regional authority area. It is clear that this was unnecessary and would be self defeating.

I still believe that incineration is the last resort option for the disposal of waste. It is an end of pipe solution. If incineration is introduced without exhausting the options of reducing, recycling and re-using waste, one removes the incentive for people to reduce the amount of waste they produce in the first place. That is the biggest single argument against incineration. I am not a scientist and I do not know the medical difficulties that may or may not be associated with incineration. However, no medical difficulties have been proven to me. The main argument against incineration is that it would remove the incentive for people to reduce the amount of waste they produce.

The other issue I want to discuss is the privatisation of refuse collection, which was mentioned by Senator O'Malley. I agree it has worked in most of the parts of the country in which it has been tried. The cherry-picking of lucrative routes by private operators is a significant problem in some areas. It can be difficult for local authorities and local authority members to get a handle on private operators to ensure all routes are covered. Private operators tend to favour urban areas, such as estates with hundreds of houses. It might not be economically viable for them to serve rural roads with ten or 12 houses on them. Householders deserve a proper service, but that is not available in some parts of the country.

The other major area on which I will focus is illegal dumping, including littering. The significant problem of litter is evident when one travels on the major routes into Dublin and most towns throughout the country. Litter is one of the greatest scourges we face. I live adjacent to a couple of thousand-----


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