Councillors invited to have say on Hightown incinerator plans

Meeting to discuss the energy from waste plant proposal at Mallusk are (from left) Councillor Mark Cosgrove,Tom Elliott MLA,Colin Buick campaign leader for Mallusk Community Action Group,Danny Kinahan MLA and Robert Foster from Mallusk Community Action Group. INNT 15-010-PSB
Meeting to discuss the energy from waste plant proposal at Mallusk are (from left) Councillor Mark Cosgrove,Tom Elliott MLA,Colin Buick campaign leader for Mallusk Community Action Group,Danny Kinahan MLA and Robert Foster from Mallusk Community Action Group. INNT 15-010-PSB

LOCAL councillors have been asked for their views on plans to construct a £240million waste treatment and disposal facility near Mallusk.

If approved, the plans will see the Becon Consortium develop a mechanical biological treatment plant alongside an Energy from Waste incinerator at the Hightown Quarry on the Boghill Road - a proposal that has met with considerable opposition from local residents and political representatives, who claim the rural location is not suitable for such a large-scale project.

At their monthly Planning and Consultation Committee meeting on Monday evening (April 15), members were presented with correspondence from the Department of the Environment’s Strategic Planning Division, asking them to submit their opinions on the Arc21 Hightown Quarry plan before April 22.

Although the proposed site for the project is just outside the Newtownabbey Council boundary, some local councillors fear it could have a massive impact on residents of Hydepark, Mallusk, Mayfield and other nearby areas.

Antrim Line representatives Noreen McClelland, John Blair and Mark Cosgrove again stressed their concerns about the proposed location of the facility, the inadequate roads infrastructure in the area and other issues.

Alderman Blair said that the matter had been “handled in the most high-handed way”, claiming that he and other local representatives had not been consulted with on the plans in the years when they were being drawn up, or before the recent media launch. And he said that asking councillors for their opinions at this stage was “an absolute waste of time”.

Councillor Cosgrove stressed that people’s objections weren’t just down to ‘NIMBYism’ (Not In My Back Yard), adding that there are a number of key fundamental points that need to be addressed by those putting forward the proposal.

With Antrim Line representatives having voiced their opposition to the controversial plans, and given the council’s partner position as one of 11 local councils working under the Arc21 umbrella on waste management issues, members suggested that it would be difficult for the council to give a corporate response to the department. They agreed instead that responses should be submitted by councillors on an individual basis, or come from their particular party group.

If it does go ahead, it’s thought the Becon/Arc21 waste treatment facility could create 340 jobs and generate enough electricity to power 30,000 homes.

Committee chairman, alderman Paul Girvan, informed the meeting that a formal planning application for the project hasn’t yet been lodged, but said it could be submitted to Planning Service by September.

Meanwhile, another series of information and consultation events have been arranged for the public to view the proposal.

On Friday, April 26, members of the public can view the proposal and meet those behind the plan in Corr’s Corner between 11am and 8pm.

They will be available again in Corr’s from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, April 27.

There will also be two sessions in Mallusk. Officials from Becon will be in the Academy Sports Club on Friday, May 10 from 4pm to 8pm and Saturday, May 11 from 10am to 4pm.