Saturday, May 26, 2007

How many shades of green?

Malcolm was amused and repelled by the story of the Arklow jobbies. It gets worse. And, bless their little cotton socks, Sinn Féin tried to make it an election issue.

It seems that Dublin City Council (in Malcolm's day, it used to be the "Corporation") export their "human waste" to be spread across the countryside.
This practice is illegal in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. More northern Irish county councils (Cavan, Meath, Offaly and Roscommon) are also forbidding it. So, the muck-merchants move on, and over 8,000 tons were added to the County Wicklow landscape last year.

Here's how to do it: take your crap, add lime (which is supposed to kill the bacteria, but doesn't — e.coli persists at fifteen times the permitted level), mix with liquid leached from landfill (lots of lovely heavy metals), spray over farmland. There are three companies involved in this practice:
  • Land Organics of Kilkenny. Last year, this firm was denied permission to build a "waste-recovery facility" for 20,000 tonnes a year of "human sludge" near Portlaoise. The crap of Portlaoise amounts to about a tenth of that. Then, this April, the Galway village of Eyrecourt got the sludge spraying treatment, to considerable local disquiet.
  • SEDE Ireland, Ltd., of Tallaght. This is part of the Proxiserve Group (based in the southern suburbs of Paris), which in turn is a subsidiary of Veolia Eau, a Paris-based multinational.
  • Quinns of Baltinglass, a decent family firm which began in seeds and fertiliser (indeed!) and has branched into a pub and a supermarket.
Nor can Malcolm neglect Louis Moriarty. Mr Moriarty traded as Dublin Waste, which was a pseudonym for Swalcliffe Ltd (though why a fine and ancient Oxfordshire village should be invoked defies reason):
Louis Moriarty, a staunch Fianna Failer, has been involved in a number of court actions over illegal dumping by his former business, Swalcliffe Ltd, trading as Dublin Waste.
Malcolm will worry at that in a moment. Meanwhile, let's stick with the court action against Swalcliffe for illegal dumping:
Wicklow County Council prosecuted Swalcliffe and the Moriartys last year [2002] to recover the cost of cleaning up a twoacre site at Coolnamadra, Donard, near the Glen of Imaal.

The council found that the Moriarty's company had illegally dumped about 8,000 tonnes of waste, including bloodstained bandages, scalpels and laboratory waste.

The council estimates that it will cost €20 million to clean the site but Swalcliffe's accounts for the year to April 30, 2002 say that "the estimated cost of remediating" the land and associated costs is €1.65 million...

In 2001, Wicklow Co Council discovered two major illegal dumps and commenced investigations along with the Gardai. Court proceedings were also issued against Swalcliffe Ltd.

The company was fined a total of IR£7,500 and ordered to pay IR£8,000 in costs for illegal dumping.
A hearing in Dublin District Court was told there were discrepancies of up to 8,500 tonnes per month between the amount of waste that Dublin Waste said it was disposing of and the amount received from it by two dumps approved by the Environmental Protection Authority.

But Mr Moriarty has friends in high places: it's that
"staunch Fianna Failer" thing. While the case against Swalcliffe was in process, Moriarty solicited his T.D. for help with obtaining a waste permit:

The Taoiseach was lobbied three years ago by the businessman with whom he was photographed in Kerry earlier this week.

Louis Moriarty, whose €20 million hotel development in Sneem Bertie Ahern visited on Tuesday, is at the centre of a series of investigations into illegal dumping.

Mr Ahern's constituency office also contacted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the activities of Mr Moriarty who is a constituent of Mr Ahern and who lives on Griffith Avenue close to Mr Ahern's home.

There is more, much more on this at, including the rocky road from Griffith Avenue to Sneem.

Moriarty quickly rid himself of Swalcliffe. It was sold to Greenstar for €5M, which apparently went to finance the €20M Sneem hotel in Mr Moriarty's native Kerry, which was later graced by a visit and photo-op by Taoiseach Ahern. Thereby hangs another tale:

Greenstar is 88 per cent owned by National Toll Roads, the multi-million-euro company owned and controlled by Tom Roche and his family.

Ah, yes, sooner or later we get back to the late Tom Roche:
A legendary figure in Irish business ... a Fianna Fail mover and shaker of the Haughey era ... started off making blocks and selling coal from the back of a truck with a £250 investment from his mother. His connections with Charles Haughey enabled him to establish a cement monopoly in the Irish state.
CRH (Cement Roadstone Holdings) control the concession, NTR, which milks the Dublin toll roads and bridges. The money from NTR has financed the move into waste disposal, that is Greenstar, and thereby into electricity generation from waste.

Malcolm pauses to reflect upon the record of CRH:
Two men charged last week with illegal dumping and pollution on Cement Roadstone Holdings (CRH) sites have been described by An Taisce as “fall guys” for the company’s poor environmental record.

John Healy from Blessington and his son Francis were charged with illegal dumping in relation to incidents in January 1997 and December 2001 when they are accused of disposing “lorryloads of waste without a waste licence”. A second charge was brought for dumping “in a manner that caused or was likely to cause pollution”.

Frank Corcoran, chairman of An Taisce, said the decision by James Hamilton, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), not to bring criminal charges against CRH, the owners of the land, is clearly contrary to European Union environmental law...

The two men charged last week are directors of Blessington Plant Hire, which was contracted by CRH to dredge pools used to clean gravel extracted from the Wicklow quarry. They are also directors of Blue Bins, a sewage and refuse disposal company. The plant hire company had unlimited access to CRH sites for several years.

During the course of the investigation, environmental investigators from Wicklow county council discovered eight separate illegal dumping sites by overflying the 600-acre site with thermal-imaging equipment that spots the higher temperatures of decomposing waste. Three of the sites were described as having “substantial” amounts of waste and three more as in need of remediation.

Half the estimated 100,000 tonnes of dumped material found by investigators was domestic and the rest was construction and demolition waste. Wicklow council has ordered CRH to remove the waste, but the Environmental Protection Agency must issue a licence.

Which brings us back to the topic of the day: coalition partners for Fianna Fáil. As "Dewey Finn" said "Read between the lines":

Green Party leader Trevor Sargent, who looks set to head a total of six Green TDs in the Dáil, said that once his party had clarified and focused on the issues in hand, they would "definitely" be discussing with other parties the possibility of forming a stable government.

However, Mr Sargent insisted that Green Party policies needed to be discussed before any such arrangement was reached.

He said banning corporate donations would be high on his party's agenda if it was to enter into a government with Fianna Fáil. His party's decision would depend on how serious other parties were about forming a stable government.

Mind where you tread! Sphere: Related Content

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