Monday, 17 October 2011

Royal Town Planning Institute Conference - Building Strategic Infrastructure

On Wednesday last October 12th I was invited to speak at the Royal Town Planning Institute conference in Dublin - 'Building Bridges - Planning for Strategic Infrastructure Development'.

The topic I was given was 'Towards a new National Policy for Waste Infrastructure'. Other sectors covered were Power Transmission Lines, Wind Energy, Environmental Risk and Public Communications.

Chairing the conference was Des Cox  of Eirgrid and Chairman of the Irish Branch of RTPI and Special Guest Speaker was RTPI President Richard Summers who is Head of Planning at the The Landscape Partnership in UK.

Des Cox of Eirgrid and Chairman of the Irish Branch of RTPI 

The constant theme of the speakers was in favour of 'plan led' strategic development with which Engineers Ireland fully agree. I based my presentation on the State of Ireland Infrastructure Report published by Engineers Ireland in May of this year. This Report sets out the Engineers Ireland policy on waste management.

The priority themes in the report were support for the continuation of Regional Waste Management Plans but better coordinated on a national basis. Also the need to ensure that integrated waste plans are implemented - therefore the ownership of waste should be vested in local authorities and these authorities to direct waste to strategic national and regional facilities on the higher tiers of the EU Waste Hierarchy as currently happens in most other EU countries at present.

All the speakers spoke of the need to fast-track 'national strategic infrastructure'. In this regard, in my speech I identified the recommended Waste to Energy plants in the North East and Dublin Regions as capable of substantial landfill diversion to satisfy the ambitious targets in the EU Landfill Directive. The Landfill Directive has been implemented in other leading EU countries though a similar integrated approach.

The urgent national environmental imperative is to further reduce our landfilling from the current near 60% by the faster introduction of the waste to energy plants authorised by the current regional plans.

Naturally the landfill/MBT contractors in the Irish Waste Management Association (IWMA) don't accept that but the current Minister appears determined to confirm and correctly implement EU and national policy in this regard. Engineers Ireland very much support the Minister's resource based waste policy and look forward to early implementation.

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