19 December 2002 Edition

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Recycling Facility Rescued

A Northside Dublin recycling facility came under real threat on Monday night when Labour TD and councillor, Tommy Broughan, brought a motion to Dublin City Council calling for the Greenwaste recycling plant in Raheny to be closed down.

The facility, which recycles organic matter into compost, was, according to Broughan, creating misery for the lives of those living in and around St. Anne's Park. The Labour TD said that for "four years the population of All-saints road and throughout wider parts of Raheny area, have suffered from intense odours, from loud noise levels and from large amounts of dust which billow out from the machine."

Broughan received a lot of support from councillors at the meeting, including a number of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael members.

Sinn Féin councillors Larry O'Toole and Dessie Ellis were the first to speak out against Broughans motion. O'Toole stated that he had been to the facility at an area meeting and had found no significant odours or noise, and while he found it imperative to take the residents' concerns into account, he felt that they could be dealt with without closing down the recycling facility-which serves the entire Dublin area.

"This is good earth going back to the earth," Larry stated. "It's not industrial or chemical waste being recycled. I would be completely against a facility of this type being closed down, because the alternative is that this waste would end up being dumped somewhere illegally."

Supporters of the motion gave what can only be described as ridiculous arguments in favour of the closure. Fianna Fail councillor Deirdre Heaney said that she had been told that 70% of users of the facility were local, but that she suspected that 70% of waste going into the facility wasn't local, and that Raheny residents shouldn't have to deal with other people's waste. Her argument was rightly accused of suffering from the 'not-in-my-backyard syndrome'.

Her colleague Seán Haughey gave an equally risible contribution when he said he was 'convinced that the large amounts of dust coming from the facility must cause asthma', and followed it up by saying, 'I have no scientific evidence to support this'.

Fine Gael's Niamh Cosgrave focussed on the smell issue, but was informed by a member of her own party that the residents of Raheny live beside a beach, and cannot open their windows for a month each summer because of the smell of rotting seaweed.

The city manager pointed out that the facility stood on three acres of a 270-acre park, and that surveys had shown that the majority of users were local, so it would be entirely inappropriate to move a recycling facility away from the majority of users.

Other councillors including those from the Green Party, Vincent Jackson and Dermot Fitzpatrick argued against the motion, and an amended motion was proposed by a number of councillors - that no decision be made until an EPR (Environmental Protection Report) was made, determining if the residents concerns could be met while the facility was kept operational. This motion was carried by 17-13 votes, and was supported by the Sinn Féin councillors.

Cllr O'Toole said afterwards that he was relieved that the motion wasn't carried.

"No councillor enjoys going up against local residents," he said. "But at the end of the day, we're elected to make difficult decisions and residents demands can't always be met. We can't argue against incineration plants in one area, while trying to close down recycling facilities in another. The trend of opportunist politics, with councillors trying to please all the people all the time, has caused enough grief for this city in the past."

"Unfortunately, it's not a good result for the residents, but it's a sign that recycling is going to have to take priority in the future."

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1