Calls for council to put green concerns first

APPEALS have been made for the council to consider the environmental impact of sending waste to a local landfill site over the financial benefits to ratepayers.

At this month’s meeting of the Environment Committee (April 8) councillors approved a short term agreement with disposal company Biffa for handling the borough’s landfill waste at its Cottonmount site in Mallusk.

Councillor Mark Cosgrove, who represents the Mallusk area, urged the council to consider the “detrimental impact” the landfill site had on residents in the area for the awarding of future waste disposal contracts.

He said: “Obviously we have little option but to use this facility while the tendering process is ongoing, however, I would like to put on record how poorly managed the Cottonmount site has been over the course of its life and the absolute turmoil those residents living in the area have gone through.

“I know that eight of the 11 Arc21 members, have already not renewed their contracts with Biffa and decided to go elsewhere and this has been widely welcomed by the Mallusk community.

“While we need to consider the value for money for all the ratepayers of this borough, the decision we make on waste disposal should not be to the detriment of the Mallusk people’s right to clean living.

“I am asking that the environmental impact of any waste disposal contract will form an integral aspect of the tendering process over the financial benefits. We can not continue to support a facility that has continued to let down the residents of the area.”

Paul Girvan said there had been a “constant battle” with the Cottonmount site’s management over problems with smells, flies and dirt around the area in the past 16 years.

He said: “Biffa promised that there would be no odours or flies and that just was not the case. Indeed it was only when we tried to play hard ball and called on the Department of Environment to investigate the site that they improved their operation.”

The council’s deputy chief executive Hugh Kelly said: “The submissions for tender have been received and once they have been assessed the recommendation will be put in front of members as is usual.

“We are constantly looking at alternatives to landfill. We have been developing our kerbie boxes collections and also increasing the materials we divert away from landfill - there is a real drive and culture of reducing the amount of waste that we send to landfill.”

Biffa has said that the decision by some local authorities not to renew their contracts will not impact on business at the Cottonmount site.

In a statement to the Times following the committee meeting, the company said: “Biffa can confirm that environmentally the site is much improved and the number of complaints has dramatically reduced over the last couple of years.

“The council has managed a procurement process which Biffa was not awarded purely on the basis of price and not because the council did not want to work with Biffa.

“As a company, we actively engage with the local community and have a good working relationship with the Mallusk Community Action Group.”