Council officers have insisted that the proposed crematorium at Ballyearl is ‘not a done deal’ amid heated exchanges at a recent public meeting.
The meeting at Mossley Mill on September 16, attended by around 40 local residents, saw council officers and planners brief the public on the scheme’s progress.
Members of Newtownabbey Borough Council have agreed in principle to progress the project, which would see the construction of a crematorium costing almost £6 million through a public-private partnership on council-owned land at Ballyearl.
Ross Planning’s Liam Currie told residents that the majority of consultation responses had raised no objections, but that Transport NI was taking a ‘cautionary approach’ and a transport assessment and Roads Survey data had been submitted. He added that the site now fell under the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP) and had been zoned as an area to be used for employment purposes.
Principal Environmental Health Officer Garth Fenning said that the site would employ the ‘best available techniques’ and would comply with DEFRA guidance on emissions. He stated: “New crematorium technologies use abatement technologies to minimise or eliminate the risk to the environment and human health.
Responding to concerns over air quality in Mossley, Mr Fenning said that surveys between 2001 and 2004 had shown that ‘no pollutant thresholds were breached’ and there was ‘no requirement for an air quality management area to be imposed.’ He added: “We believe that given new EU restrictions on car exhaust emissions and sulphur fuels over a 10 year period the air quality may actually have improved in Mossley.”
The Council’s Development Services Director Majella McAlister said that the proposal had been published in the EU Journal and Belfast Telegraph in order to ‘inform the specification of the site’ as the Council wished to involve the developer in the site’s design. She added: “We are running out of space at Carnmoney as there are 20 spaces left. Council-owned land wouldn’t have a very detrimental impact on the rate payer. Regardless of what Council does, under BMAP that area is zoned for that type of proposal and will see quite a lot of development over the next few years. This is putting a key service on the site. If the Council sold that site, potential uses certainly wouldn’t be anything so unobtrusive as a crematorium.”
Ms McAlister added that should the new crematorium go ahead, borough residents would have a ‘preferential rate.’ In response to concerns about increased traffic on the Doagh Road, Ms McAlister said the facility would potentially operate six days a week on the basis of three cremations per day, and up to 18 vehicles associated with each cremation. She added that the venture was projected as a long-term investment over 25 years.