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Controversial Belfast biogas plant decision is deferred

Words: Roger Milne
Paused / Lilith.E, Shutterstock_1376460221

Contentious proposals for a major biogas development in Belfast were paused this week. Instead of being decided by the city council’s planning committee on Tuesday evening, the project will now be the subject of a pre-determination hearing before councillors finally decide the scheme’s fate.

It is likely that the hearing will take place next month. Officials had recommended that the energy scheme should go ahead despite concerns over its impact on the city’s burgeoning film industry.

Power NI’s parent owner Energia (formerly Viridian) is behind the £40 million anaerobic digestion plant. It is designed to turn organic waste into methane gas, which is in turn, burned to generate electricity.

Belfast Harbour had described the biogas plant as “incompatible” with its £45 million plan to quadruple the size of its existing film studios that occupy land next to the site proposed for the energy plant.

In addition, Giants Park Belfast Limited, the company selected by the city council to deliver a £170 million leisure-led development on 101 hectares of Giant’s Park, has also warned that it could put the planned investment at risk.

Belfast Harbour commissioners recently secured planning permission to significantly expand its film studio operation into the largest UK studio complex outside south-east England.

The group described the bid to construct the anaerobic digestion facility next door as “incompatible with the existing film studios and may have the potential to detrimentally impact the operations of the existing film studios complex”.mA key concern is the noise aspect of the 20-month construction phase of the plant, which includes piling.

A pre-determination hearing will allow councillors to hear and cross-examine the views of the developer and the concerns of objectors before they reach a decision at a subsequent planning committee meeting.

Image credit | Lilith.E, Shutterstock