Councillor says people’s fears about incinerator have been dispelled

Cllr Sharon Keogan (Ind), Meath County Council.
Cllr Sharon Keogan (Ind), Meath County Council.
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Residents living in the shadow of the massive Indaver waste-to-energy plant near Duleek fought a bitter 10-year battle against the construction of the incinerator, voicing fears that it would have a devastating impact on the local area and its people.

The plan to build Ireland’s first municipal waste incinerator attracted more than 4,000 individual objections from people in Duleek, nearby Drogheda and surrounding areas. And a petition against the controversial development was signed by around 27,000 people.

Much like opponents of the arc21 Hightown plan, those opposed to the Indaver plant raised fears over pollution, the potential risk to people’s health, increased traffic on the roads and the impact on house prices in the area.

But now, according to one local politician who runs a constituency office and several businesses in Duleek, just over a mile from the incinerator, people’s initial fears have been allayed.

Councillor Sharon Keogan, an independent member of Meath County Council, said that the initial reaction to Indaver’s plan was “shock and horror that an incinerator was going to be built so close to the village.”

While there was “a lot of hostility” to the plan amid concerns about emissions, health issues and increased traffic through the village, Cllr Keogan said that those fears have now been “dispelled.”

“People now accept it. It’s part of our community and part of our environment now,” she commented.

While acknowledging that not everyone is in favour of waste incineration, she says she has no issue with the Indaver plant being located on the outskirts of the village.

Cllr Keogan points to employment opportunities at the facility (more than 80 per cent of its workforce comes from the local area) and the community fund set up by Indaver to support local groups and activities, including sporting events, as real positives.

“The community fund attached to the planning has actually worked in favour of many community groups around the area. I think in the last three years alone communities have benefitted by just over 700,000 euro and will continue to benefit into the future as long as the plant is there.

“You are looking at possibly around 250,000 (euro) per year coming back into the community so that has to be a very good positive.”

She concluded: “We were the first plant in Ireland. Would I have fears about putting another plant in Ireland? No I certainly would not. I don’t think they cause any harm whatsoever to the environment or the communities that they go into.”