Opponents of a proposed waste incinerator at Mallusk have welcomed a Court of Appeal ruling that Stormont officials did not have the legal authority to grant permission for the facility.
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) had appealed an earlier ruling that its permanent secretary unlawfully approved the waste disposal facility at Hightown Quarry.
However, the Court of Appeal held that only the full Executive could authorise the plant.
NoArc21 was established to highlight residents’ concerns regarding the proposed waste incinerator and associated facilities. Colin Buick, chairperson, said the community group is “delighted with this decision”.
He added: “We have always said that there is no strategic requirement for the incinerator at Hightown Quarry.
“We hope that today’s judgement will act as a wake-up call to DfI. Now is an opportune time for the department to take stock and completely review its waste management strategy. There needs to be a rigorous assessment of what facilities are needed going forward – especially if they are to be paid for out of ratepayers pockets.
“We sincerely hope that this is the end of the matter and that DfI accept this decision of both courts.”
Meanwhile, the Becon Consortium, which was to build the facility on behalf of six councils, said it was disappointed at the outcome.
In a statement, it added: “We note however that today’s ruling does not in any way change the material facts or merits at the heart of the planning decision itself, the project’s compliance with regional waste policy or indeed remove the strategic need for such infrastructure here in Northern Ireland in the future.
“Instead, the court’s decision is entirely based on procedural matters surrounding the ability of the department to make a decision in the absence of a minister in post.”