Priority Questions.

Waste Management.

Phil Hogan

Question:

37 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the sites that are subject to investigation and report by his Department that require remediation; the date he was first informed of each site in each case; the action plan in respect of each site; the financial outlay by the State to bring each site back to safe standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27785/08]

The State, acting through the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in a co-ordinating role, took over custody of the former Irish Ispat site from the liquidator in June 2003. This position is an exceptional one in that the Department has been directed by a specific Government decision to have responsibility for the care and maintenance of this specific site and this is the only such site currently subject to any investigations or reports by my Department. The standing Government position is that Ministers are responsible for the implications of their own policy areas and programmes, including any associated land and property holdings.

The mandate required my Department to co-ordinate all legal actions in relation to the site and to cover issues such as ongoing site security, ongoing maintenance and other issues arising once the site was vacated by the liquidator and to enable a site investigation to be carried out to determine the best option, economically and environmentally for site remediation.

During that period the Department has co-ordinated all legal actions in relation to the site; carried out a comprehensive site investigation to determine the levels of contamination and remediation-development options at the site; set up ongoing environmental monitoring at established monitoring points; decontaminated and demolished the steelworks buildings; and arranged for the site surface clearance contract with Hammond Lane Metal Company.

These steps have brought the site to a position where the Government can make an informed decision as to its future use and where a detailed risk assessment of the entire site with recommendations for the appropriate remediation required can be undertaken. The costs associated with such appropriate remediation will depend on the Government decision on the future use of the site.

In regard to the question of any other site in the country, my Department does not compile or maintain a list of such sites which could relate to any contaminated land. With regard to landfill remediation under the Waste Management Acts, the statutory responsibility for landfill remediation lies with the local authorities and statutory responsibility for national hazardous waste management planning rests with the EPA which has prepared a national hazardous waste management plan. Section 60(3) of the Act precludes me as Minister from exercising power or control over a matter for which the agency or local authorities have statutory responsibility.

I thank the Minister for his reply. I find it amazing that he does not have information about any other sites around the country apart from Haulbowline, which his Department is directly involved in. That particular revelation showed that the Minister was very proactive in reassuring people at the time that there was no risk to public health. Even when my colleague, Deputy Stanton, and others revealed that a baseline study was required into the increased cancer rate in Cobh, he appeared to have no difficulty in coming forward with that information or meeting residents' groups about these matters.

Since the revelations about Haulbowline has the Minister asked the EPA or his Department about any other potential sites around the country of a toxic nature that might present a risk to public health and require remediation and an action plan? In the event, have costs been devised for such areas?

The Deputy is right in pointing out that I met the residents. I made all the information available very rapidly. If the Deputy assesses the situation, he will find that, without disparaging previous Ministers, I did more about this matter in a very short time than previous Administrations. The reports that have been made available are in the Library, as the Deputy knows. People made much of the fact that there were five previous reports. They are all available in the Library and are all on CD.

My Department took responsibility for this site in 2003. The Deputy is asking me now to take responsibility for sites all over this country. There may well be such sites elsewhere, but they are not my responsibility. I can imagine that many of our old mines could pose difficulties with remediation, but they are not the responsibility of my Department. As much as the Deputy would like me to have responsibility for many things, I am not responsible for those sites.

Deputy Gormley is Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and, like all of us, I know he has an interest in ensuring the protection of the environment. I am aware that he can get the information needed through the local authority system. His Department officials can ring the local authorities and assemble such a list. However, it is clear that he has no interest whatsoever in doing that.

Otherwise, he would take an interest in this matter and would be able to give us the information today. I understand the EPA has no list of such toxic dumps that may exist throughout the country. We can only speculate, but in the absence of the information the Minister refuses to give me today, I believe it is disingenuous of him to say he cannot get it in view of the fact that he could assemble all the facts about Haulbowline. Will the Minister say what core sampling and testing was carried out in the Haulbowline case in particular? Where were the samples tested before the State took over the site and after the revelations that came through his Department in the past few weeks? What is the testing process so that we may ensure that a bona fide problem exists, which can be resolved?

Will the Minister give an undertaking to the House to compile a list of potential difficulties to public health in various sites around the country? Will he instruct his Department officials to get such a list from the EPA, and the local authorities immediately to determine what the risk to public health is, if any?

The Deputy appears to be contradicting himself because——

No, I am not.

——-when he spoke there he asked me to contact the EPA. He has now revealed, if I understand him correctly, that the EPA does not have this information.

I asked the EPA today and the Minister could, equally, have asked.

The Deputy has just said he does not have the information, yet he is asking me to contact the EPA. I have gone through a number of the documents dating back to 1995. My preliminary assessment at this stage is that a previous Government, which comprised Fine Gael and the Labour Party, did not cover itself in glory as regards this site.

I am asking the Minister about——

I know the Deputy does not want to hear this.

We shall answer for that.

I know he does not want to hear it, but I am just giving him the truth. As regards the White Young Green study carried out in 2005, an extensive, intrusive site investigation was undertaken at the time, which indicated no evidence of immediate threat to human health or the environment, and they are best suited in determining the best way forward in securing the site from an environmental and health and safety viewpoint. That is the way we are proceeding. I got them on site immediately. Not only that, but as I said to the Labour Party Deputies here last evening, the residents requested that any analysis undertaken should be subject to a peer review. I was happy to accommodate the residents in that regard so that they may be assured that the methodology for any analysis carried out is up to best international practice.

Will the Minister give an undertaking to the House that there is no risk to public health, in his view and that of his Department, from any other hazardous site in the country?

To suggest that I can give a clean bill of health to every single site in the country is ridiculous.

The Minister was able to do it for Haulbowline.

In the case of Haulbowline, I was able to get the analysis. I will not lead people up the garden path.

The Minister can get the information, however.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

38 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the latest information available to him regarding any threat to human health or life, animal or marine health or life, or the environment arising from contaminated waste at the Haulbowline site in County Cork; the steps he is proposing to take to deal with any such threat; the plans for the safe disposal of the contaminated waste; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27806/08]

The environmental challenge presented by the former steelworks on Haulbowline did not manifest overnight. It is the legacy of an industrial past. For many years the steelworks were a significant employer in the Cork area and an important part of the local economy. The site has the potential once again to contribute to the economic and indeed social life of the area. First, however, the legacy issue must be addressed.

Since 2003 my Department has had responsibility for the management of the facility on an interim basis pending a decision by Government on the future use of the site. This has included enabling a site investigation to be carried out to assist the Government in determining the best option, environmentally and economically, for its future use.

In light of the situation created by the unauthorised actions of contractors on the site, I have moved to address the more immediate, very understandable and legitimate concerns of the local community. I have made available the entire report on the 2005 site investigation, including the full suite of technical data which it generated. I have also made available the reports on the ongoing monitoring of the site which has been carried out over the intervening period. My Department has arranged with the consultants who produced the 2005 report that they will clarify any technical issues which may be raised.

This information is the total of the reports and investigations of the site arranged by my Department. The 2005 report in particular summarises earlier desk studies and, more importantly, reports on comprehensive intrusive site investigation which included extensive analysis of soil, water and air, including sub-surface testing for heavy metals. These reports have indicated no immediate threat to human health or the environment in the locality, while recognising that this is a contaminated site which will ultimately require an extensive and co-ordinated resolution.

In light of the recent events my Department has re-engaged the consultants to carry out an independent and rigorous assessment of current site conditions. This assessment is under way and will involve analysis of soil, slag, dust, surface and ground water samples for all likely contaminants, including heavy metals such as chromium. The results will be published.

My Department and other relevant agencies are properly engaged in the management of this legacy site in a manner which is consistent with good practice and minimisation of risk to human health and the environment. A coherent overall approach rather than piecemeal action, which could inadvertently cause problems to the local community and the environment, must be taken and that is the objective being pursued now by my Department.

I thank the Minister for his reply. My question raises issues concerning the threat to public health and that of the people who worked on the site, those who live nearby and to the marine environment, air quality and water quality. Approaching this issue from a slightly different angle, I have raised with the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment a number of times the fact we have not properly implemented the Seveso directive, which is an environmental directive. Responsibility for its implementation has been given to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. That was a mistake, given that it concerns an environmental issue. To ensure we have joined-up Government, it would be much better if the Minister's Department had responsibility for implementing this directive. It would cover the issue of this site. I put a question to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the other day——-

The Deputy might put a question to the Minister now.

——to ascertain if the Seveso directive would apply to the management of this site. That is not clear because the Minister said it is not listed as an establishment under the directive. I tabled that question because it is the type of directive that should apply to the management of this site. I want the Minister to examine this further. The directive requires the putting in place of plans to deal with a toxic environment above a certain level and ensuring safety provisions are put in place. The issue of this site has been highlighted in terms of information, openness, accountability about the health issues involved and the levels of chromium on the site. The Minister is arranging for a report to be prepared, which is a positive step and represents progress——

Will the Deputy put a question to the Minister?

Will the Minister set out a planned approach for dealing with the site? A plan should be put in place setting out the steps to be taken over a period of time and it should be made public. Such a plan should cover emergency planning, day to day activity in the area, who carries out work and who visits the site. All those arrangements need to be planned. It is not enough to have a report. We need an overall plan that sets out for the next number of years how this issue will be dealt with in terms of plans A and B etc. If an emergency arises or there is a risk to human health, there needs to be a plan to deal with it. The Minister needs to address that.

That is precisely what we are doing. That is what the Government is about. We are producing a strategy for a way forward, a plan. That is what the White Young Green analysis is about, namely, to get on the site and produce the data, which will be peer reviewed. I hope the residents will be happy with the analysis that has been carried out.

I have said previously that I am about openness and transparency. We have produced all the reports and we want a "warts and all" approach. If this site is contaminated, and we believe it is highly contaminated, let us find out how contaminated it is and the necessary steps to be taken to ensure it is properly cleaned up.

The Deputy talked about a plan, but I advise that an options paper will be produced and put before Government which will examine it in detail to determine the best way forward.

The Deputy referred to the Seveso directive and it was raised previously in Cork when I met people in regard to other sites related to the docklands area. We must make sure no danger is posed to people in the locality. We must ensure this plan takes account of the future use of this particular site, whether part of it will be a residential area, a marina and what the people there want. The sort of remediation required differs from plan to plan. If, for example, the people want a park on the site, that would not require the level of remediation that would be required otherwise. I am not pre-empting the options in any way, but it may well be that some part of the site may have to be capped while other parts of the site may have to be fully remediated . That is what we have to examine.

I will take a final supplementary from Deputy Tuffy. We have spent more than the time allocated on this question. Therefore, I ask the Deputy to put a brief, direct question.

Will the Minister specifically indicate whether the Seveso directive applies to this site? I would like people to be told the answer to that question. The directive provides that residents must be protected in terms of the threat posed by dangerous substances on sites. All such considerations must be taken into account in residential planning. The directive covers the protection of human health and so on. It seems it should apply to concerns regarding this site. The Minister should find out if it does and report back to the House and, if it does, he should advise the way it will be implemented.

It is good to have a report and data on the site, but a plan has not been put in place. The site may be capped. Apparently, it will be capped, but previously it was not going to be capped. The approach to dealing with the site has been one of crisis management. The Minister needs to put in place a proper plan. I am not blaming the Minister in this respect. As he said, there is a legacy regarding the management of the site, but the Deputy is now the Minister, and henceforth we need a planned approach to managing the site. The message must be clearly put across that the health of the public is being protected and that there will be planning for land use in the future to ensure it meets safety standards. The Minister should find out if the Seveso directive applies to this site and, if it does, he should implement it.

There is a plan in place.

Yes, but what about the directive and the legal position?

I have said to the Deputy over and over again that we have put a plan in place, and more of a plan than existed previously. We have made more information available than ever before.

That is not a plan; that is a report.

No, that is a plan.

That is not good enough.

Allow the Minister to respond.

That is a plan of action. I am glad the Deputy is not blaming me in this respect because there is a legacy issue here. As I said to Deputy Hogan, I have gone over the files and my preliminary analysis shows——

The Minister should publish them.

I certainly will.

We will then note what the environmental law was at that time.

I would like to see the Deputy's response to them because his party did not produce any plan for this site.

The Minister should publish the files.

I will publish all the information and I will meet the Deputies any time they want regarding this.

Planning Issues.

Phil Hogan

Question:

39 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the effect the recent European Court of Justice decision on environmental impact assessments will have on current and future construction projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27786/08]

There are two aspects to the judgment of the European Court of Justice delivered on 3 July. First, the compatibility with the requirements of Directive 85/337/EEC on Environmental Impact Assessment, as amended, of Irish legislation under which permission may be granted for the retention of unauthorised development and, second, whether appropriate environmental impact assessments were carried out in respect of the development of a windfarm at Derrybrien, County Galway, which was the subject of a number of planning applications between 1998 and 2003.

With regard to retention permission, the court noted that while Community law cannot preclude applicable national rules from allowing, in certain cases, the regularisation of operations or measures which are unlawful in the light of Community law, such a possibility should be subject to the condition that it does not offer the persons concerned the opportunity to circumvent Community rules or to dispense with applying them, and that it should remain the exception. The court found, however, that under Irish law, there is the possibility of the grant of retention permission in cases lacking any exceptional circumstances.

With regard to the Derrybrien development, the court found that the development consents given for, and the execution of, the wind farm development and associated works at Derrybrien were not preceded by environmental impact assessments which conformed to the requirements of Directive 85/337/EEC.

This very recent judgment is being studied in detail to determine the appropriate response. I have already been examining legislative options for removing or minimising the possibility of retention for unauthorised developments that would otherwise have been subject to environmental impact assessment under Directive 85/337/EEC and these will be further developed in light of the court's judgment.

The position remains that under Part 10 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and Part 10 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, a planning application in respect of a development or class of development falling within the scope of Directive 85/337/EEC, as amended, must be accompanied by an appropriate environmental impact statement. The carrying out of unauthorised development is an offence under the Act.

Would the Minister agree with the European opinion that Irish planning law is weak on retention planning? Will he bring any proposals forward to assist local authorities in ensuring they have better guidance on matters such as the one in Derrybrien? I cannot believe such a large wind farm would not be subject to an environmental impact statement. A large number of environmental cases are active against the Government in the EU. Is the Government taking steps to ensure these complaints are addressed? What progress is being made on them?

The Deputy is correct. The Commission challenged the enforcement measures put in place by Ireland to ensure genuine application of the EIA directive. According to the Commission, Irish legislation did not impose any clear obligation to bring unauthorised development to a stop. In particular, the Commission felt Ireland had not presented evidence of clear guidelines for local authorities to ensure these authorities take the necessary enforcement action. The Commission set out some examples illustrating the failure to take enforcement action in Ireland and cited five particular examples relating to quarries and one each of a piggery, a peat bog, a hotel, a convention centre and a wood processing factory. Ireland argued that the existence of an exception power to grant retention permission represents a sensible fallback development and consent position.

It has always been my conviction that in this country we play fast and loose on planning and particularly on retention. I am introducing a suite of measures, which I have circulated to my Government colleagues. I want to develop the heads of a new planning Bill that will address these issues.

Environmental Policy.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

40 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding proposals for carbon credits on flights by Government Ministers and officials; the way the amount to be spent on carbon credits for each flight will be calculated; the flights for which they will be purchased; the person from whom they will be purchased; the environmental purposes the money will be used for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27807/08]

In response to the programme for Government and the national climate change strategy commitments to introduce a carbon offsetting scheme for air travel on Government business, including flights by Ministers and civil servants, I have developed the principles of a scheme which will operate on an annual basis starting in 2008. I am currently finalising the necessary logistical and administrative arrangements.

The offsetting scheme will require each official flight to and from Ireland to be recorded, and the carbon dioxide emissions calculated based on the total air miles or kilometres travelled. The offsetting cost will be determined on the basis of a carbon price which will be set by my Department each year to reflect the average price in the voluntary offsetting market. The value of the total offsetting requirement each year will be invested on behalf of Ireland by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, REEEP, in small scale "gold standard" energy efficiency and renewable energy offsetting projects in Ireland's priority least-developed countries.

The scheme will apply to all Departments and offices and will cover all flights by Ministers and officials on both commercial airlines and Government passenger aircraft. It will also apply to bodies under the aegis of Departments and it will be a matter for individual Departments to decide which bodies are to be included. The scheme will be optimal in terms of administrative efficiency and accountability, and will have the added advantage of increasing awareness of the global warming implications of air travel among official travellers and their Departments and offices. The scheme will retrospectively account for all official air travel since this Government came into office in June 2007. I believe the Government scheme sets an important example in terms of a very practical step which air travellers can take to minimise their carbon dioxide emissions.

Those are the first proper details I have had of the scheme. I was very interested in what the Minister said. The money will be given to a company called REEEP which will invest it in renewable energy in the least developed countries——

It will be invested in countries in which we have projects.

That is the problem with this type of scheme and has been identified by a number of people including Friends of the Earth. The Minister says we will keep doing what we are doing, putting out our emissions, and let the least developed countries take the brunt of reducing emissions. They can have renewable energy but they cannot have the technology we have. It is all to make the Green Party look good because it brought in carbon offsets, although it did not reduce emissions but got the Third World to do it for us instead. That is the gist of what the Minister said. I am very sceptical about this type of initiative. The Minister would do better to put more buses on the road. If he spent that €400,000 on extra buses for Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus or whoever, I would not be sceptical. This is all about appearances, like all the other Green Party initiatives. We will have our consciences eased about flying or driving in our big cars and let the Third World take the brunt of it. We will not let them have the development we have. They will take the brunt of this while we feel good about ourselves.

Deputy Tuffy must ask a question.

These companies are not regulated. I do not include the company the Minister mentioned because I do not know anything about it, but Friends of the Earth has raised many issues around this. These companies are not regulated and we do not know what will happen to the money. It is a load of nonsense.

That was a wonderful question. I do not even know what the question was. The Deputy mentioned the "brunt". Friends of the Earth supports this scheme.

No, it does not. Friends of the Earth in Ireland does not.

REEEP is a "gold standard" company. I met its representatives in Bali. It is sometimes difficult to understand what Deputy Tuffy says. What is the Labour Party's position on this? Her colleague, Deputy Burton, has raised this issue time and again on the Order of Business, asking the Government when it would introduce this scheme. I got the clear impression the Labour Party was waiting for us to introduce this. Now it appears the Labour Party is opposed to this. This is "gold standard" offsetting. Deputy Tuffy should listen to people such as Mr. Al Gore, who clearly said it does not matter where one reduces carbon as long as it is reduced. That is the principle behind the European scheme. One puts a cap on emissions and decides to reduce them. Would the Deputy prefer that we do nothing? This is the practice of most progressive Governments, and now that the Green Party is in government, we have a very progressive Government.

Good man John. The Minister should not get carried away.

Friends of the Earth in the UK argue that supporting carbon offsetting companies could delay laws being put in place to set targets for everybody to cut carbon emissions. Is the Minister aware of that information on the Friends of the Earth website?

I am very aware of it.

Why not put more buses on the road? The Minister is letting the Government away with murder regarding buses. The Department of Transport is making people take buses off the road, and then the Government is paying this out to some other country.

That would be a good question for the Minister for Transport.

I was not aware that we are letting people away with murder, but that is Deputy Tuffy's assessment.

I spoke metaphorically.

I went to quite some difficulty to ensure this measure got through Government.

That is because the Minister could not get anything else.

It is "gold standard" offsetting. We can be quite assured that the people involved in these projects are only too delighted to get renewable energy such as solar power put into their villages.

Maybe they would like electricity and water.

I am very disappointed the Labour Party is opposed to progressive measures such as this, which will assist the most vulnerable people on our planet.

It is all cosmetic.

Waste Management.

Phil Hogan

Question:

41 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his policy on incineration and its role in the national waste strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27787/08]

The programme for Government signalled the development of waste and resource policy in the direction of sustainability and, in particular, to move away from mass burn incineration towards alternative technologies. Arising from a commitment in the programme, a major international review of waste management strategy is commencing. This will inform the Government's approach to waste prevention and minimisation and to diversion of waste from landfill. This review will examine, in particular, the emergence of new technologies in waste management, particularly those for the mechanical and biological treatment of waste, which can reduce the need for incineration or landfill.

The Government is acutely conscious of the very real and imminent challenge posed for Ireland by the EU landfill directive. To meet our obligations under this directive will require a doubling of the amount of biodegradable waste we divert away from landfill by 2010. We need to accelerate the move away from landfill quite dramatically, to examine all the technologies that can contribute to this and to regulate the sector in a manner which supports optimal environmental performance at minimum cost. The review is not just about technology. Its terms of reference are deliberately broad so as to promote a fundamental review of the legal, institutional and financial approach we take to waste management.

Inaction is not an option and the approach reflected in the current waste management plans, while facilitating some progress, is not going far enough fast enough. Ireland needs to pursue the most innovative solutions available and applied internationally. We can move from being an under achiever to world class standard and to a position of leadership rather than struggling to meet EU targets, as at present.

Undue emphasis on incineration as the cornerstone of waste management policy is detrimental to the development of alternative solutions. The review may well indicate some residual role for thermal treatment in our future waste management strategy, but I do not envisage it being on anything like the scale that was previously planned.

The Minister has repeatedly said, since coming to office, that he has no role in the planning and granting of licences relating to incinerators or other waste management infrastructure. Yet, when An Bord Pleanála or the Environmental Protection Agency makes decisions he has, through media interviews, said that he is going to make those decisions redundant in his own constituency in Poolbeg. That seems to be the basis of Government policy in relation to waste — soundbites and media interviews.

Does the Deputy have a question?

If the Minister is so much against incineration, why did he meet an economic consultant about a 100,000 tonne incinerator in Rathcoole?

I did not meet any economic consultant. I met an environmental consultant, a former director of the EPA. Deputy Hogan's party has described this as a secret meeting but if it was so secret, why was I happy to announce it to the Deputy and to others?

Why did the Minister meet the person concerned?

The fact is that the lady, whom I have known for quite some time, came to me to talk about a range of issues. She spoke about what she described as an alternative proposal for Rathcoole. I told her I was sorry but I could not get involved in any particular application. I have said already this afternoon that I do not get involved in any applications. She also wanted to speak to my party colleague and I understand that the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, met her. That is as far as it went.

I meet people on a regular basis to discuss alternative technologies, gasification being one of them. I have met many people to discuss that issue. I have also met a lot of people in relation to pyrolosis. I am looking at all options and a suite of measures to deal with the waste management problem.

The bottom line is that when we are talking about alternative technologies, what I want to see happening is not high-tech. We must get into source segregation, ensure the roll-out of the brown bins and then, as is happening in Austria and elsewhere, we could use NBT for the residual or black bin waste. That is the way forward and we can make massive reductions in our waste if we pursue that particular option.

It is quite difficult to get to meet a Minister, whether as part of a delegation or deputation or even as an individual, unless one attends the Minister's clinic. I was amazed that the Minister put himself in a position — notwithstanding what he has just said and I accept his bona fides in the matter — whereby he gave the impression that he was in favour of incineration. He surely knew what he would talk to the person concerned about before he met her. The fact that his Green Party colleague met the same individual certainly raised the antenna.

Does the Minister accept that in view of his policy, which he has enunciated through various soundbites and media interviews — to which An Bord Pleanála and the EPA do not listen, although the Minister would like them to — it was inappropriate for him to meet somebody who is in favour of incineration and of developing a 100,000 tonne project in Rathcoole, especially given that under the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act, the application goes directly to An Bord Pleanála and the Minister has no direct function?

The Deputy is being entirely disingenuous. The impression he is trying to convey here and that his fellow Deputies are trying to convey on the ground in that area is that a secret meeting took place. They are trying to give the impression that I am, somehow, in favour of incineration. Nothing, as I hope the Deputy now realises, could be further from the truth.

I am quite willing to meet people and have met quite a number of delegations since assuming office but what we require is clarity around the Deputy's party's position on this matter.

My party is not in Government. The Minister is in Government.

Fine Gael, unfortunately, on the issue of incineration, has voted in favour over and over again.

On at least three occasions, Fine Gael was in favour of including——

The Minister is in favour of it.

When the original Waste Management Bill was going through the House, my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Trevor Sargent, tabled amendments which were rejected by all of the main political parties. His main amendment concerned incineration——

Which is now accepted by the Minister.

That is the situation.

The Minister is now meeting the developers of incinerators.

Deputy Hogan's party put that through. It voted for the waste plan going through Dublin City Council. Fine Gael voted on three separate occasions for incineration. That is the situation and——

The Minister is meeting incinerator developers. What hypocrisy.

Deputy Hogan needs to face up to that reality and stop playing politics with this issue.