‘This is not the right place for an incinerator’

Danny Kinahan MLA (second from right) with Boghill Road residents James (92) and Nan (80) Montgomery and their son, Ian.
Danny Kinahan MLA (second from right) with Boghill Road residents James (92) and Nan (80) Montgomery and their son, Ian.

Residents living in the vicinity of Hightown Quarry near Mallusk have voiced their objection to the controversial plan to construct a massive waste incinerator in the area.

Around 40 local residents gathered at the Boghill Road home of James and Nan Montgomery on Monday evening (February 3) to show their opposition to the proposal by waste management group arc21 and the Becon Consortium to build a multi-million pound Energy from Waste plant at the quarry site.

The meeting, organised to give local residents an update on the current situation, was chaired by South Antrim MLA Danny Kinahan and was addressed by Colin Buick from the No-Arc21 anti-incinerator lobby group.

Ian Montgomery, whose elderly parents hosted Monday’s meeting, commented: “The residents don’t want it there; they don’t think it’s the right choice of site. Something like this should be built in an industrial estate somewhere, not in a country area where it will destroy the local habitat. There are plenty of other places this could go, so why are they wanting to put it here?”

The No-Arc21 group started an online petition against the arc21/Becon project several months ago. But Mr Montgomery said that local residents, some of whom are elderly and don’t use computers, are now considering drawing up their own petition against the plan.

Meanwhile, the No-Arc21 campaign group has claimed that a report published last month in the British Medical Journal about the dangers of long-term exposure to ambient air pollution is further evidence that waste incinerators represent a danger to public health.

“If we allow such technologies as this proposed incinerator to go ahead, there will be a very real risk to the health of the residents in the locality of this monster for over 25 years,” said group chairman, Colin Buick.

However, responding to the campaigners’ claims, a spokesperson for arc21 said: “The recent study published in the BMJ supplements the current scientific evidence base on the health effect of air pollution which defines air quality standards set to protect health, and indicates the need to further investigate the main sources of particulate matter 2.5 (from motor vehicles).

“The proposed facility is specifically designed to capture and reduce emissions to air, and is regulated to the most stringent standards of any sector set to protect health.

“It would remain well within air quality standards set to protect health and even when considering the recent BMJ study, facility emissions are not of any order to quantify any measurable adverse health outcome during either construction or operation (including transport emissions). Such a conclusion is consistent with the current scientific evidence base and the position of authoritative independent bodies including the UK Health Protection Agency.”

A formal planning application for the Hightown EfW project hasn’t yet been submitted by arc21.