Hightown waste incinerator plan: Campaigners call for meeting with Minister

A computer-generated image of the proposed residual waste treatment plant development at Hightown Quarry, Mallusk.
A computer-generated image of the proposed residual waste treatment plant development at Hightown Quarry, Mallusk.

Campaigners fighting plans for a £240m waste incinerator development in Mallusk have called for a meeting with Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen.

No-Arc21, the group opposing regional waste management body arc21’s controversial plans for Hightown Quarry, claims the Minister recently wrote to arc21 confirming that she will grant millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to the project if it gets the go-ahead from the Planning Appeals Commission later this year.

The anti-incinerator campaigners have described the Minister’s position as “surprising and confusing”, given the strength of political and public opposition to the project, including among her own party colleagues.

“Whilst we acknowledge DEARA Minister Michelle McIlveen MLA is still relatively new to her post, we are surprised and confused by her willingness to recommend millions of pounds of public money be used to subsidise the construction of an incinerator that is simply not needed,” said No-Arc21 chairman, Colin Buick.

“The private sector in Northern Ireland is already providing solutions for landfill waste diversion and there is no justification for using taxpayers’ money on complying with non-existent EU targets, which won’t apply here anyway (post-Brexit).

“We have asked for an urgent meeting with the Minister through her party colleagues in South Antrim, who we must point out have been wholly supportive of our campaign against the incinerator project – as have her party colleagues in Stormont. We look forward to meeting with the Minister in due course.”

Concerns about the Minister’s position have also been voiced by South Antrim MP Danny Kinahan, who claimed she is “out of step with her DUP colleagues.”

Mr Buick revealed that No-Arc21 members are also keen to meet with Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard to discuss their concerns about the proposed development at Boghill Road.

The Times contacted the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for a response to the No-Arc21 group’s claims, and asking the Environment Minister to clarify her position on the issue. The department hadn’t responded at the time of publication.