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NI waste project refused by minister approved on appeal

Words: Roger Milne
Waste management / iStock-482676342

A controversial £240 million energy-from-waste facility (EfW) originally refused by former environment minister Mark H Durkan has – in the absence of a minister – been given the go-ahead by officials at the Department for Infrastructure.

The scheme, which involves proposals for an EfW plant alongside a mechanical biological treatment (MBT) works, an ash treatment and a refuse-derived bale store, is earmarked for the former Hightown Quarry at Mallusk on the outskirts of Belfast.

This decision comes after arc-21, a consortium of six local authorities behind the scheme, appealed against the Durkan refusal. The councils are: Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Ards and North Down Borough Council, Belfast City Council, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

The Planning Appeals Commission held an inquiry over a year ago and published a report recommending support for the project.

The report endorsed the strategic need for the facility, its compliance with regional policy and the significant environmental benefit in terms of meeting waste management/treatment targets and assisting in the battle against waste crime.

The department agreed with the independent report and its recommendations. It insisted that it was “in the public interest to take this decision, without further delay, given the strategic importance of the project for the region”.

The department received 4,021 letters of objection and one petition of objection with 836 signatures in relation to the project.

The decision has proved contentious politically and is now facing a legal challenge.

Image credit | iStock