Incinerator is wrong for Cork

Opinion piece by Eric Nolan

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‘Not in my backyard’ is a statement that has been used so much that it has a shorter name for ease of use. Nimbyism has become a term used to dismiss opposition to projects by those who live in the vicinity of said project. A properly functioning society requires facilities like hospitals, schools, energy generation plants and dumps to name but a few. And they have to go somewhere.

We all want to be close to hospitals and schools. We want to be far away from power plants and dumps. Sometimes objections from locals are primarily nimbyism. Those objecting accept fully that the facility in question is needed on a societal level and they just don’t want it located near them.

I don’t think the growing movement in opposition to Indaver’s planned incinerator in Ringaskiddy falls into the this category. I am aware that living in Midleton and being a parent of two children attending a school some five miles from the proposed site makes it easy for the ‘NIMBY’ label to be used to dismiss my arguments, but I’ll give it a go anyway.

Cork is Ireland’s second city with Dublin being the largest. Dublin is bursting at the seams and is hardly a shining light for sustainable development. Dublin has a growing housing crisis as well as major traffic problems on a scale that far outstrips the rest of the country. Much like its growth rate. This situation can only be helped by more balanced national growth. Repeating Dublin’s mistakes isn’t the answer though. Simply shifting uncontrolled, undirected growth to other cities will only lead to the same problems on a wider geographical stage. We need to take an eyes open approach.

Being (I think at least) a naturalised Corkonian is a source of pride for me and I’m very happy that my three children will grow up here. Cork has a lot going for it and will likely grow strongly in the coming years. The level and sustainability of this growth has yet to be determined. There is much to do to ensure Cork realises its potential.

Big thinking will be required. The reorganisation of the City and County Councils is a step in that direction. The new structure has the potential to turbo charge inbound tourism and see Cork realise its potential as a first class destination provided energy and funds are pumped into tourism. The planned event centre (if it ever gets built) can feed into this also.

Cork Harbour can be the focal point for growth. The ongoing cleanup of the toxic waste left by the Irish Steel plant at Haulbowline Island (albeit at a slower than promised pace) is vitally important. Millions of Euro has been spent on a marine college and clean energy research centres. Modern clean energy exploration and a unique maritime heritage at the world’s second largest natural harbour. And let’s not forget Cork Harbour is also home to Europe’s leading tourist attraction, Spike Island.

Port of Cork is thriving and will see a 30% growth in cruise business in 2018. They are also developing an 80 million euro Cork Container Terminal in Ringaskiddy. As Port of Cork continues to grow and expand in future years, there will undoubtedly be synergies with other forms of transport and this could add to the continuous growth Cork Airport has seen in recent years. A rising tide and all that.

All the ingredients are here. With a little bit of vision and stakeholder communication leading to everbody pulling in the same direction, Cork could achieve its potential with Cork Harbour leading the way.

Putting an incinerator in Cork harbour makes no sense at all when viewed in this context. Does anybody really think that we can project a modern, clean attractive image of Cork and Cork Harbour to the world when we stick an Incinerator in the middle of it? It’s very hard to understand An Bord Pleanala’s decision.

Stopping the incinerator now will be difficult. Efforts in this regard are being led by CHASE (Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment). They have been actively opposing this project for seventeen years. The options now are limited to a Judicial Review of An Bord Pleanala’s decision before the High Court. The estimated cost of this is between one hundred and fifty and two hundred thousand euros. Raising that kind of money is extremely difficult. Throw in a deadline of 19 July and it’s even harder. Visit chasecorkharbour.com to donate and make a difference while we have the chance. Let’s stand up and take control of our future.

Eric Nolan is a father of three living in Midleton. He is the Labour Party’s Local Area Representative for Cork East/Midleton Local Election area. You can learn more on Facebook EricNolanLabour or Twitter @ericnolanlab .

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