Durkan explains Hightown incinerator rejection

The No-Arc21 group was set up to oppose plans for an incinerator at Hightown Quarry.  INLT 40-650-CON
The No-Arc21 group was set up to oppose plans for an incinerator at Hightown Quarry. INLT 40-650-CON

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has explained why he rejected planners’ recommendation to approve a waste incinerator at Mallusk.

Mr Durkan said he made the decision to refuse planning permission for the Hightown quarry incinerator proposal after assessing the details presented to him, and addressing the opposition from the community.

“I have carefully considered all the information before me. I have listened to the concerns of local people and their public representatives. To date there have been 3526 objections and one petition of objection with 836 signatures,” he stated.

The minister believed the incinerator may have been detrimental to recycling if it had been allowed to go ahead.

“I am committed to a policy of zero waste and have worked hard with councils to increase recycling rates. I want this to continue. This development could result in an increased market for waste disposal and to maintain a facility such as this, in addition to the other approved waste facilities, could discourage recycling. In that context I do not consider there to be any need for this proposal,” Mr Durkan added.

NoArc21 campaigned strongly against the plans to construct the incinerator, and have welcomed the news that planning permission has not been approved.

Chairman of the group, Colin Buick said: “Over a number of years we have continuously highlighted the facts that arc21’s proposed incinerator is not needed, and, given its inappropriate location, would have a hugely negative impact on surrounding families. Today’s decision justifies our concerns and those of the 3500 people who have objected to the application.”

“We now call on arc21 to accept the Minister’s decision and to respect the views and concerns of thousands of local people in the Mallusk area and beyond,” Mr Buick added.

Alderman Mark Cosgrove was pleased with the decision to reject the planning permission and praised the efforts made by NoArc21.

“The people of Glengormley and Mallusk will be relieved at this announcement, but I believe that it was of vital strategic importance for the waste management sector in the whole of Northern Ireland. I want to pay a particular tribute to Colin Buick and his team from right across the Greater Mallusk and Glengormley area who led the community objections in such a professional and coherent manner,” the Ulster Unionist representative said.

DUP Councillor Matthew Magill praised the efforts made by NoArc21.

“I want to pay tribute to those from the local community who established the NoArc21 opposition campaign and who have spearheaded the fight against this proposal. Their campaign has received cross party and community support since its inception and as both a Mallusk resident and an elected representative for the area, I thank them for all their efforts. This decision has been a victory for local people,” he said.

SDLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said the announcement reflected the strong campaign mounted by local residents and was a testament to those who have opposed the proposed £240m development.

He said: “This is a very welcome decision from the Environment Minister. Local residents have campaigned passionately against locating an incinerator here and Mark H Durkan listened.

“To propose an incinerator plant so close to several large residential developments, schools and an area of high scenic value like the Belfast Hills was fatally misguided. The response of local people has been impressive, proportionate and entirely justified. The SDLP will continue to support them.

“It’s important now that the arc21 councils take due regard of this decision and the views of those who have campaigned for so long. Waste management should be based on green, environmentally friendly alternatives to incineration. Their entire approach requires a fundamental rethink.

“Today’s decision is a testament to the fortitude of local people in the Hightown and Mallusk area and to the willingness of the Minister to seriously take account of the needs and circumstances of this community. I want to again congratulate them and thank the Minister for diligently listening to their case.”

Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Noreen McClelland added: “I’m delighted with this decision. I’ve been working closely with residents since the campaign began and their hard work has now paid off. This is good news for local people, the local community and our environment.”

South Antrim DUP MLA, Pam Cameron has also warmly welcomed confirmation that planning permission is not being granted to the arc21 proposal.

She said: “The site is located in a heavily populated area and there has been a huge amount of opposition from people living in the local area.

“The proposed incinerator at the site of the old Hightown Quarry was highly controversial for host of reasons and was opposed by over 3000 local residents.

“The need to reduce landfill waste is of paramount importance and for that reason I found it difficult to comprehend that the focus was on developing a plant to incinerate that waste rather than encouraging further recycling, reusing and repurposing initiatives.

“Whilst no one can argue with the need to reduce the amount of domestic and commercial waste we send to landfill; particularly given the European Directives and penalties for non-compliance, the entire proposal was quite simply was not safe, not sustainable and not wanted and confirmation that planning approval will not be granted should mean the search for alternative ways to deal with waste begins.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to commend the work of the No-Arc21 group for their tireless efforts to ensure that this issue has remained to the forefront in the area and thank them for their diligent determination to ensure that awareness was raised.”