Poolbeg incinerator could cost taxpayer €120mDublin City, Featured Updates, News, Poolbeg Monday, September 6th, 2010
Dublin City Council manager John Tierney said tonight that the council has spent €60m on the Poolbeg incinerator project to date and could spend a further €60m before the project is even completed.
At the monthly council meeting, one councillor corrected him and that the council report provided to them stated €75m was spent so far on the project. Tierney did not respond to this.
In response to a question regarding the implications of terminating the contract, the city manager refused to disclose the potential costs, stating that a legal claim could be made against the council if the contract was terminated.
Tierney said that the decision or review period of 35 days from the break clause in the contract, as reported by RTE’s Prime Time, is being extending by 240 days.
He said city management has acted in good faith in following Government policy.
On the size of the incinerator, Tierney said that city management must look at the longer term – although he gave no data to back this up. He also claimed that the size of the plant cannot be changed without going back to tender the project and that any interest in the tender would be unlikely given the current controversy.
A report at the weekend outlined how during his appearance at an Oireachtas committee Tierney was asked about contract changes but did not mention the break clause. Tonight the manager said that, at the time, he could not have foreseen the delay which is linked to the break clause.
Cllr Catherine Noone (Fine Gael) warned that she would take legal action if councillors were not shown the contract.
“We are in the dark. Is the suggestion that the officials can be trusted with this information and we as councillors of this city cannot be? We simply want a copy of the contract. It’s not acceptable that we be treated in this way,” she said.
Noone added: “I’ve instructed solicitors to write to the law agency. I feel so strongly about this. I believe I have a legal entitlement to see that contract. I find it completely unacceptable that we be treated in this way. I just simply demand a copy of the contract… and I will instigate proceedings if I don’t receive one.
The city manager said he hopes to make a version of the contract available to the council.
Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) said, “This council should nail the lie. This is not the policy of Dublin City Council. Dublin City Council had repeatedly and consistently voted against this particular waste management plan. I am furious every time I hear a statement issued in the name of Dublin City Council…This project is a policy of the bureaucrats in the Customs House unaccountable to anybody and the officials in the civic offices not elected by anybody.”
Tierney said incineration is city council policy which was agreed by councillors, but accepted that the location of the incinerator was disputed.
Most councillors spoke in opposition to the project or the current deal with many of them requesting to see the contract.
Cllr Jim O’Callaghan (Fianna Fail) said: “When I look at the broader picture I see an impending car crash. And the car crash has been caused by two drivers, the minister for the environment driving probably driving an electric car and the city manager driving his own car and I don’t mind the two of them driving into each other but I do mind when they damage the people in the back of the car, namely the Irish taxpayer and the people of Dublin.”
O’Callaghan added: “What needs to be done is that this Mexican standoff needs to end. The city manager needs to meet the minister and they need to resolve the issue. The minister needs stop being obsessed with the concerns of residents of Ringsend. And the city manager needs to have a broader view that the contract that was entered into back a number of years ago may not be suitable to Dublin now.”
Also criticising the Minister, Cllr Christy Burke (Independent) said, “It’s poor cowardice that the minister is playing this role at this stage… He’s stalling, he’s procrastinating and he’s doing everything to save his neck in the next election.”
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