Minister pulls plug on power plant plan

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OPPONENTS of a controversial plan to build an Energy from Waste (EfW) power plant at Ballyutoag Road near Mallusk have welcomed a decision by the Environment Minister to refuse planning permission for the project.

Mallusk Community Action Group, which had urged people to object to the proposal, said local residents would be “relieved” by the Minister’s decision.

The application from Irish Recycling Services, which proposed the construction of an EfW plant involving thermal processing of waste wood, non-recyclable commercial and industrial waste and municipal solid waste, was first submitted to Planning Service in June 2009. The facility would have produced electricity for the national grid and used residual heat within ancillary greenhouses at the site overlooking Mallusk and Hydepark.

The power plant, which objectors had branded ‘a waste incinerator’, has been the subject of intense interest from within the local community, with the proposal attracting more than 20 objections.

Announcing his decision on the Article 31 (major planning application) on Tuesday, Minister Alex Attwood said: “I have given very careful consideration to this proposal, interrogating all the issues and have concluded that it’s excessive scale and resultant visual impact would be detrimental to the character of the surrounding countryside area.

“I am also aware that, in planning policy terms, the proposed development is not considered to be acceptable in this location and has the potential to give rise to adverse environmental impacts.

“Having carefully considered these matters and after taking account of the views and concerns of the local community I have decided to refuse planning permission. I am a firm supporter of EfW opportunities and of alternative, more environmentally sustainable energy plans. However, this proposal is sited in the wrong location, is in conflict with a range of planning needs, and the environmental benefits do not outweigh the potential harm to this rural area.”

Welcoming the Minister’s stance, Richard Gregory, Vice-Chair of Mallusk Community Action Group, commented: “The residents of Mallusk will be relieved at this news. We continue to be disadvantaged by the siting of the landfill facility and scrapyard in our village and yet another waste disposal complex would only have added to our woes.”