Politicians vote to drop plans for Poolbeg plant

IRELAND: Further funding for the EfW project is in place even though it has been on hold since gaining planning permission in 2007

An artist's impression of Poolbeg
An artist's impression of Poolbeg

The Poolbeg plant faces an increasingly unclear future following a decision by local politicians at the Dublin City Council who voted to abandon the Energy from Waste plant on 3 March.

The facility, located on the Poolbeg Peninsula of Dublin, is planned to generate electricity as well as district heating for 60,000 homes from 600,000 tonnes of waste a year.

Officially, the project is on hold awaiting the outcome of a complaint to the EU, the result of which is due this summer. The financing arrangement between the company and Dublin City Council allegedly breach EU rules on state aid and public procurement.

The vote is a blow to the scheme that could cost up to €500m if it goes ahead, but officers at the local authority will have the final say on it once the EU has delivered its verdict.

Should the project not go ahead the local authority might be liable for costs of up to €160m. Covanta Energy, the company constructing the plant, last week committed €620,000 towards it, covering costs until the end of June this year.

To ease some of Dublin City Council’s concerns, the company has already dropped a clause from its original contract guaranteeing the local authority would provide at least 320,000 tonnes of waste annually for the plant, or make up the difference in the event of a shortfall. This could have ended up costing as much €350m.

Speculation is also rife over Covanta Energy itself. While it remains officially still committed to the project, the company has recently reviewed its European operations with a view to exiting the EfW market, leaving a number of projects in limbo.

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