Fund awards soon to be announced

Above: The Covanta incinerator nearing completion.

Above: The Covanta incinerator nearing completion.

Dublin Waste To Energy project is soon to announce its awards to local community groups under their Community Gain Fund scheme.

The scheme is part of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative between Dublin City Council (DCC), local groups in the community, and corporate US-based energy giant Covanta, the multinational firm that commenced building its controversial waste incinerator on the Poolbeg peninsula despite years of sustained opposition and protest from local residents.

Covanta operates over 40 such energy-from-waste incinerators worldwide, several of which have been the cause of labour disputes and legal proceedings arising from breaches of environmental protection standards. In 2011 the company paid $400,000 in fines for emissions violations at their incinerator plant in Wallingford, Connecticut. Recently, Covanta’s new incinerator in York, Canada, was found to be emitting 13 times the allowable dioxin levels (a very serious health issue) and were ordered to shut down to remedy the problem.

The Community Gain Fund scheme will see the Community Gain Liaison Committee, a committee of local councillors, DCC representatives and officials, and individuals from community organisations, awarding grants to local groups from a fund representing 3% of the total capital costs of the incinerator facility.

This fund has been estimated to total €10.3 million with a further ongoing contribution from Covanta of €1 per tonne of waste processed in the first year of the plant’s operation. The ongoing contribution to the Community Fund will be continued and updated in accordance with the consumer price index.

The current Liaison Committee for administering the Fund consists of Chairperson Peter McLoone; elected representatives Cllr. Chris Andrews (Sinn Féin); Cllr. Kieran Binchy (Fine Gael); Cllr. Frank Kennedy (Fianna Fáil); community representatives Mary de Courcy (Railway Union Sports Club); Mary Doolin (Ringsend Community Services Forum); John Nolan (Dublin Stevedores Ltd.) and DCC Officials Rose Kenny (Area Manager) and Helen McNamara (Senior Executive Officer). John Daly, M.D. represents Covanta on the Committee.

The Fund’s serving Liaison Committee Chairperson Peter McLoone is no stranger to controversy. In 2009 he was highly visible in the Irish media having been required to resign as Chairperson for state training agency FÁS, along with the rest of the board, in the wake of a damning report which exposed a serious expenses scandal.

Cllr. Frank Kennedy of the Fund’s Liaison Committee commented to NewsFour on the number of “excellent initiatives” that had applied to the fund and added that he hoped it would benefit the residents of the area.

Although many local groups have applied to the Community Gain Fund, there are also voices of dissent concerning the PPP initiative. Cllr. Claire Byrne (Green Party) did not take her seat on the Liaison Committee due to her party’s strong opposition to the incinerator at Poolbeg but in a statement to NewsFour said: “I wish all the community groups who applied for the fund all the best and hope they are successful in their applications”.

Frances Corr of Combined Residents Against Incineration (CRAI), the local campaign group that opposes the incinerator, was less enthusiastic about the CGF awards scheme.

In a strongly-worded statement she said: “We’re not interested in the fund – our health is our wealth and is not for sale. You cannot compensate the community for what the incinerator will bring to this area.” Those who have applied have obviously taken a different view.

NewsFour will be reporting on the details of the Community Gain Fund awards which are due to be announced before Christmas.

By Harry Bradley