Dáil Éireann - Volume 616 - 08 March, 2006
Written Answers. - Alternative Energy Projects.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
 218. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans for waste to energy conversion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9733/06]
Mr. Roche Mr. Roche
Mr. Roche: Thermal treatment with energy recovery forms an important part of a modern, integrated and sustainable approach to waste management consistent with the internationally accepted waste hierarchy. Its role is fully recognised within the EU environmental framework which moreover regulates waste incineration in accordance with strict environmental standards.
This type of incineration forms a key part of an integrated approach to waste management here in Ireland, as has been affirmed in a variety of policy documents from 1998 onwards. Supporting and developing this policy framework is the extent of my Department’s involvement in planning for waste to energy in Ireland. The detailed implementation of waste policy is a matter for local authorities, consistent with their waste management plans, and private sector initiatives, regulated by the independent statutory waste licensing and physical planning processes.
I hope to see further progress on the provision of waste to energy facilities in Ireland over the coming years and the development of an approach to waste management similar to that of the Scandinavian countries, Germany and the Netherlands. These countries, which are often cited as adhering to the highest environmental standards and providing a model of best practice, use incineration with energy recovery as a key part of their approach to solid waste treatment. They combine this with extremely high levels of waste recycling to minimise the amount of residual waste landfilled. Ireland should also move towards such a model, attaining the highest possible levels of recycling, incinerating non-recyclable waste, with energy recovery in the form of electricity or district heating, and landfilling only a small proportion of inert waste.
Ireland has significantly increased its recycling levels in recent years. Municipal waste recycling has grown from only 9% in 1998 to a current level of 34%. This alone, because of the increase in waste generation, is not leading to a significant drop in landfilling rates. It is evident that if we are to make further progress in diverting waste away from landfills, we must focus more both on waste minimisation and reduction as well as incineration.
Waste to energy plants will of course at a minimum be subject to the very stringent emission limits provided for in the EU incineration directive and must satisfy our independent physical planning and environmental licensing pro cesses, which can rightly be regarded as among the most rigorous and transparent in Europe.
Dáil Éireann 616 Written Answers. Alternative Energy Projects.