PLANS for a massive incinerator and waste recycling plant in the Mallusk area were unveiled on Tuesday.
The large-scale multi-million pound project proposes a sophisticated “energy from waste” incinerator built on the Boghill Road alongside a waste sorting facility and visitor centre in the Hightown Quarry, currently operated by Tarmac.
It plans to receive and sort waste for recycling and then all other materials which can not be re-used will be incinerated to create electricity and heat.
The resulting power created is said to be enough to supply around 30,000 homes a year with electricity.
The plant will be similar in size to Wembley football stadium and if given the go-ahead will be one of Northern Ireland’s biggest ever infrastructure projects costing £240million to build.
Proposals were unveiled in Corr’s Corner on Tuesday morning and, should the plans be approved, the plant could be constructed by 2018.
Around 1,000 jobs would be created through the construction and subsequent running of the plant and the contract for the facility could represent an overall value of £1billion.
Ricky Burnett from Arc21, an umbrella organisation for waste management of 11 council areas, including Newtownabbey, said the project will have a massive economic impact and substantially increase recycling levels.
He said: “This is unique for Northern Ireland. It is about looking at waste as a resource that we can use and extracting value from it.
“It will also act as a catalyst for future economic development as well as create a new energy supply.”
Mr Burnett told the Times there were nine sites considered for the plan, however, the Hightown Quarry was deemed the most suitable.
He continued: “The site is well suited for the facility as the quarry walls will provide a shield to minimise the visual impact around the area.
“It also has ideal links to the road network and the electricity grid.”
Mr Burnett continued: “We have to move away from sending waste to landfill and this is the ideal opportunity. This is a first for Northern Ireland and the technology is used throughout Europe.
“It will reduce material sent to landfill and increase recycling rates. It is a massive project on a very large scale, it is ostensibly like building a power plant.”
Arc21 has commissioned the Becon Consortium to develop the waste facilities at Hightown Quarry on its behalf, pending the completion of a procurement process.
The consortium is backed by E.ON Energy from Waste AG, a European company that has a pedigree in building and operating similar facilities across Europe.
Mr Burnett said the contract for the plant, which has a 25-year lifespan could be worth up to £1billion. He said the Environment Minister, who recently rejected a similar proposal not far from the proposed Mallusk site, has been “kept informed” of the latest plans.
During a presentation in Corr’s Corner Hotel representatives said to call the site an incinerator would be a “misrepresentation” as the facility did some much more in terms of its recycling and energy production.
The site will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the majority of deliveries taking place during working hours.
All functions would be carried out under a roof and all noxious smells and odours would either be completely destroyed or chemically removed. There will be a strict enforcement that there will be no “noticeable smell”.
Draft proposals on the scheme have been lodged with the planning service and information sessions for the public will be held in Mossley Mill. Information leaflets will be sent out to 30,000 homes within a two-mile radius of the site and an advice and information session will be held in Mossley Mill.
The public have been encouraged to visit the website www.becon.co.uk and engage with the consultation process.