Residents ‘unhappy’ with Mallusk landfill asbestos proposal

Richard Gregory, Chairman of Mallusk Community Action Group. INNT 05-068-FP
Richard Gregory, Chairman of Mallusk Community Action Group. INNT 05-068-FP
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Mallusk residents are said to be “unhappy” with proposals to build an asbestos disposal plant at the Cottonmount landfill site, but the village’s residents’ association has said it is encouraged with the communication it has had with the owner of the site.

Biffa Waste Services, which operates the landfill, has applied to vary its waste licence and build a Stable Non-Reactive (SNR) cell for receipt and disposal of asbestos waste within the site.

The entrance to Biffa's landfill site at The Cottonmount, Mallusk. INNT 05-066-FP

The entrance to Biffa's landfill site at The Cottonmount, Mallusk. INNT 05-066-FP

It’s thought the facility will be the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and will significantly reduce the costs of disposing of asbestos.

In discussions with residents, Biffa has stressed the safety aspect of the disposal process, however many residents are said to be unhappy with the application.

Richard Gregory, chair of Mallusk Community Action Group said: “Obviously we would prefer that there was no asbestos disposal on the site.

“But we would also prefer there was no landfill site to begin with, but that is just not realistic.

“I know many residents are not happy with this.

“As soon as you mention asbestos people do have an immediate reaction and think the worst.

“We would be hopeful there will be a public meeting and the entire village can have their say and listen to what Biffa is planning.”

Richard along with another member of the group’s committee recently travelled to Redhill in Surrey, England to see how an asbestos disposal plant works.

He went on: “We are no experts, but the process certainly seemed to be safe and secure.

“Biffa over the years has improved its relationship with Mallusk residents, there is a lot more communication and information.

“The site manager at the landfill has attended our AGM and has been very helpful and informative.

“The company produce a leaflet on what’s happening locally to keep us informed.

“It’s something they don’t have to do and we would appreciate a similar relationship with other businesses in the area.

“No one wants this on their doorstep, but at least Biffa is willing to be open and discuss the matter with us and address the concerns we have.”

Councillor Mark Cosgrove has been working with residents on the matter.

He said: “Clearly nothing can proceed unless the safety of the wider Mallusk community can be 100 per cent guaranteed.

“Considering the daily contamination of our historic village and the dreadful smells which blights residents lives it is vitally important that the process outlined is one that is open and transparent and that involves maximum consultation.

“I was also delighted to hear at first hand the assurances given by Biffa’s Mallusk site manager that if after having considered everything in a rational fashion the community still did not want the activity to proceed that it wouldn’t.

“I would urge all residents to engage with us in the consultation process and to do so with an open mind.

“If there is any grey areas about community safety I will be at the forefront of the campaign to stop it. Until then I am prepared to listen.”