arc21 rubbishes rumours of waste negotiations with aerospace firm

editorial image

arc21 has denied rumours that it has been involved in negotiations with Bombardier Aerospace regarding the supply of waste for its proposed new gasification energy plant.

Campaigners opposed to arc21’s plan to build a massive Energy from Waste facility at Hightown Quarry near Mallusk had claimed that the umbrella waste management group - which represents Newtownabbey and 10 other local councils - may be holding private talks with Bombardier about supplying waste for the £85 million power plant it has been granted planning permission to build at its Belfast factory.

Rubbishing the rumours, a spokesman for arc21 told the Times: “arc21 is not - and has never been - in negotiation with Bombardier or its agents to provide waste to its proposed facility.”

Last week, a spokesman for the Becon Consortium - the company working with arc21 on the £240 million Hightown project - insisted that the Bombardier gasification plant is “nothing whatsoever to do with the municipal black bin waste within the arc21 area.” And he revealed that a formal planning application for the controversial scheme could be submitted within a matter of weeks.

The No-Arc21 campaign group, whose chairman Colin Buick had been due to meet with the Environment Minister at Stormont this week to discuss concerns about the arc21 plan and other environmental issues, insists that the proposed waste incinerator is “not safe and not sustainable.”

Mr Buick revealed that Tuesday’s meeting was cancelled by Mark H Durkan, but has since been rescheduled for next month.

At Monday night’s meeting of the council’s Policy and Governance Committee, members voted to discuss the arc21 project behind closed doors, despite objections from Alderman John Blair, who has voiced serious concerns about the Hightown plan.

Chief executive Jacqui Dixon advised members to go “into committee”, pointing out that they were going to be considering “commercially sensitive” and legal issues.

Despite Alderman Blair’s protestations that the issue was already very much in the public domain, members voted 14 - 8 (councillors Blair, Cosgrove, Campbell, Mackessey, McClelland, McCudden, O’Reilly and Webb) to exclude the press from the meeting.

On Tuesday, the Times asked arc21 to comment on the issues raised with the council, but was told: “It would be inappropriate for arc21 to comment on meetings held by its constituent councils.”