Minister urged to end uncertainty over Hightown incinerator project

Latest environmental news.
Latest environmental news.

South Antrim MLAs Pam Cameron (DUP) and Danny Kinahan (UUP) have again called on the Environment Minister to halt arc21’s plan to build a £240million Energy from Waste plant near Mallusk.

A planning application for the controversial project at Hightown Quarry was submitted in March 2014, but Minister Mark H. Durkan is yet to decide whether or not to give it the green light.

Mrs Cameron used last Tuesday’s Stormont question time to continue to press the Minister to make his decision and end the uncertainty over the incinerator plan.

“Whilst I was not surprised that the Minister failed to provide me with a firm commitment as to his department’s train of thought on this, we must take heart from the fact that he openly acknowledged the ‘unprecedented’ level of objections he had received from those opposed to the plans. He also highlighted the fact that there have been no letters of support in favour of the project,” she said.

The Assembly Environment Committee deputy chair claimed that the Energy from Waste plant is “not wanted and not needed”, adding: “The Minister went on to state that the number of objections to a planning application will not be the determining factor in making his decision, but I hope that he will take a common sense approach on this matter and listen to the voices of those who will be directly affected. My constituents have suffered enough from this proposal and I would urge the Minister to condemn these plans to history once and for all.”

Mr Kinahan, who also raised the issue during question time, expressed his disbelief at confirmation from the Minister that £50million is still being held by the department for the arc21 project in the event that it is given the go-ahead.

Branding the situation “absurd”, the South Antrim general election candidate said: “I simply cannot understand why £50million in capital funding is being held for a project that is not currently going ahead, and, given the scale of opposition, may never go ahead.

“This money simply cannot sit gathering dust while other areas of capital funding are under pressure. I would like to see this invested where it is needed. This £50million could do wonders in helping improve the schools estate. We could also see it going towards infrastructure projects such as delivering the much needed Ballyclare bypass.”

He added: “There is so much that could be done with this money. To hear that it is being held for an unpopular project whilst vital investment is being cut causes the sort of public bewilderment that encourages people to switch off and lose faith in politics. I pledge to do all I can to ensure that this money is reallocated and invested where voters need it.”

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