Representatives of the No-Arc21 campaign group visited the offices of the Planning Service in Belfast on Wednesday, April 30 to hand in more than 500 letters of objection to the controversial plan to build a massive waste incinerator near Mallusk.
The group, which is fighting the arc21/Becon proposal to construct a £240m waste disposal plant at Hightown Quarry, says the letters take the total number of objections to over 1,000.
No-Arc21 has branded the proposed Energy from Waste plant “not safe and not sustainable” - a claim denied by arc21 and the Becon Consortium.
A decision on the planning application for the project, which was submitted at the end of March, will be taken by the Environment Minister.
“The fact that over 1,000 objections have been lodged just one month after the application was submitted shows the huge level of concern this proposal has created,” said No-Arc21 chairman Colin Buick.
Branding the project “the wrong technology on the wrong site”, he added: “This project will directly affect residents in Newtownabbey, Mallusk, Antrim, North Belfast and beyond, and will be visible from over 15kms away.
“It has caused widespread anxiety in the surrounding areas, with local communities worried about the effects the plant could have on air quality, traffic levels, house prices and health.
“While the proposal has been publicly opposed by representatives from all major parties, the decision on the planning application will ultimately be made by current Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan. Therefore it is vital that concerned residents and members of the public continue to have their voices heard by submitting letters of objection to DOE Planning.”
Mr Buick concluded: “I find it very difficult to believe that any other planning application, past or present, has attracted so much negative attention so quickly. We will continue to work night and day to ensure that when it comes to making his decision, Minister Durkan fully recognises the public tide of disapproval towards this project.”
Meanwhile, No-Arc21 has rubbished the claim made by the Becon Consortium that it didn’t receive an invite to the public meeting held in Mallusk on April 16 to discuss the Hightown plan.
Mr Buick says that arc21 and Becon were invited to the meeting via an email sent to their ‘point of contact’ for both organisations - arc21’s policy and operations director, Ricky Burnett.
Indeed, in a subsequent email to Mr Buick regarding Becon’s claim that it didn’t receive an invite to the meeting, Mr Burnett confirms that he received an invitation for “a representative from arc21/Becon” to participate in the event.
While Mr Burnett stresses in his correspondence that arc21 and Becon are “two distinctly different organisations”, he confirms that the invitation “was discussed with Becon personnel.”
“You will appreciate that we are two distinctly different organisations each with a different status in the project and as such it is difficult for a single person to be able to talk on behalf of both organisations. However, the invitation was discussed with Becon personnel and on this particular occasion, both organisations were of a similar view,” he said.
arc21 declined to send a representative to the public meeting, saying that “engagement through the dedicated liaison committee involving local resident association/community group representatives provides for a more constructive mechanism to discuss associated operational and technical aspects of the proposed facilities.”