Hightown incinerator: Updated environmental information submitted

An artist's impression of the waste treatment plant.
An artist's impression of the waste treatment plant.

Residents have vowed to continue their fight against plans for a waste incinerator in Mallusk after revised documents were submitted to the Department for Infrastructure.

Campaigners have been voicing opposition to proposals for a residual waste treatment facility in the Boghill Road area of Newtownabbey since they were first unveiled in March 2013.

The Department for Infrastructure announced in September 2017 that full planning permission had been granted for the facility at the Hightown Quarry site. However, last year the Court of Appeal ruled that Stormont officials did not have the legal authority to grant permission for the facility.

NoArc21 was established to highlight residents’ concerns regarding the proposed waste incinerator and associated facilities. They have stated that they will continue to oppose the proposal after further environmental information relating to the environmental statement has been submitted.

Commenting on the latest development, a spokesperson for Becon, which was to build the facility on behalf of six councils, said: “An Environmental Statement Addendum, which includes updated information has been voluntarily prepared and provided to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) Strategic Planning Division to enable them to fully consider arc21’s planning application (reference T/2014/0114/F) for a residual waste treatment project at Hightown Quarry, near Mallusk.

“DfI Strategic Planning Division granted planning permission for the proposed development on 13 September 2017 following a clear recommendation to approve from a Planning Appeals Commission hearing, subject to certain conditions. That decision was later quashed following the outcome of the Buick judicial review which questioned the legal basis for senior civil servants to make such a decision in the absence of a minister, due to the ongoing absence of a local NI Executive or Assembly.”

The spokesperson added: “Following the introduction of The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 and associated guidance on decision-making for Northern Ireland Departments published by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the merits of the planning application itself and the PAC recommendation to approve remain to be redetermined by the DfI Strategic Planning Division.

“Given the time lapse since the original ES submission in March 2014, subsequent ES Addendum in September 2014 and Further Environmental Information (FEI) submitted as part of the Statement of Case (August 2016) in advance of the PAC hearing, this ES Addendum has reviewed and refreshed the necessary EIA baseline surveys and methodologies utilised as part of the assessments undertaken. This has been done voluntarily to ensure any future decision taken on the application is robust and based on the latest available information.”

Stating Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council will be involved in the consultation process, a spokesperson for the local authority said: “At this stage the council has been contacted by the Department for Infrastructure as part of the consultation process in relation to the planning application for the proposed Residual Waste Treatment facility at Boghill Road, Co Antrim.

“The council will respond to the consultation process in due course.”

Voicing support for NoArc21, SDLP candidate for Glengormley, Cllr Noreen McClelland said: “Continuing to support the Not in Hightown campaign. Our commitment to residents has not changed. We were with you at the start of the campaign and we will continue to help in whatever way we can.”

Macedon UUP candidate for the council election, Cllr Robert Foster said: “I have fought this from the start as it isn’t required. I am happy as the current UUP councillor for Macedon and if re elected to continue to fight this unwanted and unneeded burden on ratepayers.”

Sinn Fein candidates for Glengormley, Cllr Michael Goodman and Rosie Kinnear also voiced their opposition to the project.

In a joint statement, they said: “Sinn Féin has opposed this proposal at all levels from the beginning and will continue to support the local community in its opposition. We are shocked that arc21 are renewing their efforts to push this development despite the court ruling in 2018.”

A copy of the new information is available in the downloads section of the Becon website www.becon.co.uk and through the planning portal. A copy is also available for public inspection at Glengormley Library, 40 Carnmoney Road. Newtownabbey, BT36 6HP.