Geoffrey Meagher, new chair of Bord na Mona
The soon to be appointed chairman of Bord na Mona was questioned in the Oireachtas yesterday about a variety of issues.
The fact that Geoffrey Meagher has yet to take up his role likely explains a lack of substance in his answers to Deputy James Lawless’s questions. The exchange took place in the Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment.
Deputy Lawless asked Mr Meagher about the proposed expansion of the Drehid Landfill site. “It’s one of the largest landfills in the country at this stage. With the shortage of landfill around the country, more and more of it is heading for Kildare and for Drehid,” he noted. “Last year Drehid exceeded its capacity before the end of the year and had to be ground to a halt.”
Deputy Lawless speaking at the committee
Explaining that there is an application for hazardous waste being made at the moment, which is bypassing Kildare County Council and going to An Bord Pleanala as strategic infrastructure project, he suggested that this could be “counter-productive” because it foresaw that the local authority could become an objector itself”.
“The bulk of the local community are not opposed to the presence of the landfill and there’s a good working relationship,” Deputy Lawless said, “but what is a major concern is the haul routes.and this is a real issue because there are, four haul routes in the planning but in reality one of them is most used - Sallins, Clane, Millicent, Prosperous in particular, which are all local rural back roads, and which are subject to serious volumes of traffic at different hours of the day.”
He said it was a real concern and that it was causing great alarm in the community - especially given the nature of the material.
“The fact that it’s hazardous is also going to cause alarm.” He suggested that Bord na Mona consider other routes, such as the Kilshanroe/Edenderry, which he felt would be more appropriate.
Mr Meagher responded to this by saying that it shouldn’t be forgotten that the Drehid site was impressive in terms of the technology that is being used and the way things are done.
“The way things are done, the professional way they are done and in terms of waste recycling and waste recovery, it is a great asset to the State in terms of how to do things well - and I think that shouldn’t be forgotten about in this whole context.” He clarified that the semi-state’s plans for hazardous waste were not set in stone. “All that’s being done is an application,” he said, adding that they would have to apply for a license to run it.
“But there isn’t any decision made in relation to what we want to do with it. But obviously anything we would do is totally within government policy and what is required.”
Watch for the full exchange
He said that the TD could take an assurance from the company that “whatever will be done will be done, not alone within all the licenses that are required, but in excess of the licenses in terms of safety, the way things are done”.
Deputy Lawless also asked about a planned 500 MW solar farm in Timahoe, in particular if there would be community gain along the same lines as one in Mount Lucas, Co Offaly, where €1,000 is given to the community per MW. He added that the proposal was “reasonably well received”
Mr Meagher said he sure “you’ll negotiate well” on that issue, adding “to be fair we do want to work with communities, to be fair to communities and to be consistent in the way that we do it”.
Deputy Lawless’s final question was in relation to people being prohibited from cutting turf on their own plots and if Bord na Mona could assist in doing a swap for plot holders.
Mr Meagher indicated that this was something that was a local issue that he would bring back to management.