Becon pushing ahead with plans for Hightown waste facility

A computer-generated plan of the proposed Energy from Waste facility at Hightown Quarry.
A computer-generated plan of the proposed Energy from Waste facility at Hightown Quarry.
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The Becon Consortium - the private sector group behind the plan to build a £240m Energy from Waste plant at Hightown Quarry - has applied for an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) permit for the facility.

Although a decision hasn’t yet been made on the planning application for the controversial project, the IPPC application is seeking an environmental permit from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to operate the waste disposal plant.

The permit, if awarded, would cover the operation of a mechanical biological treatment facility at the Boghill Road site, which could help increase recycling levels within the arc21 area by up to 10 per cent, according to Becon. It would also cover operation of the Energy from Waste incinerator, which would be capable of producing 14MW of electricity - enough to power more than 30,000 homes.

Ian Smith, Project Director with the Becon Consortium said: “This IPPC permit application is a very important phase of the overall project designed to ensure that the state of the art facilities we are proposing meet all the stringent environmental requirements for a project of this nature. Once operational, people can be reassured that the facilities will operate safely, meeting all necessary environmental regulations and that they will be rigorously monitored by the NI Environment Agency to ensure it operates within the terms of the Environmental Permit.”

With considerable public opposition to the plan and fears about its potential impact on people’s health and the local environment, Mr Smith stressed that similar facilities have been in operation for many years across Europe and play an important role in terms of energy diversity and security.

He said that an EfW plant in Northern Ireland would make a major contribution to economic growth, providing hundreds of jobs during the construction and operation phases.

A decision on arc21’s planning application for the Hightown waste incinerator, which has been met with thousands of objections from local residents, is expected to be made by the Environment Minister within the next couple of months.