The man fronting the Mallusk and Hightown residents’ campaign against a proposed incinerator for the area has said he is confident they can defeat the plan.
Mallusk, Mayfield and Blackrock residents officially launched their ‘No Arc 21: Stop the Hightown Waste incinerator’ campaign in the Academy Sports Club on Thursday night.
Arc 21, which represents 11 councils and the Becon Consortium have proposed to build a £250million incinerator and waste sorting plant in the Hightown Quarry on the Boghill Road.
The plant, which will be similar in size to Wembley Stadium, will receive rubbish that would usually be bound for landfill, process and sort it into recyclable and waste material.
The resulting waste material will then be incinerated in a sophisticated facility which will take the resulting energy created and transform it into electricity which could power up to 30,000 homes a day.
Those behind the plan say it could create around 1,000 jobs in its construction and subsequent operation and that it will significantly reduce material sent to landfill. They said the overall lifetime of the facility could represent a £1billion investment.
However, residents living close to the site have opposed the plan saying it enhances Mallusk’s unwanted reputation as the “dumping capital of Northern Ireland”.
They have been working and consulting with Arc21 and the Becon Consortium for the past 18 months but have said relations have broken down.
On Thursday the residents officially launched their protest group which will focus on drumming up support to try to block the planning application when it is officially submitted.
Residents were told during the meeting that six people had already pulled out of house sales based on the proposal.
Colin Buick, chairman of the campaign group told the packed out Academy Sports Club the group would lobby politicians and gather support to oppose the facility.
He said the proposed location of the plant on the Boghill Road was inappropriate given the transport infrastructure and residential make-up of the local area.
And he questioned if the site would be viable given an emerging proposal for a similar facility proposed for Belfast’s docklands.
Colin said: “The Hightown Quarry site is the wrong location - it should be built in a fully industrial area.
“Bombardier is proposing to build a gasification plant in Belfast. That facility will protect thousands of jobs and help power their factory.
“It is being entirely built by the private sector and is clearly much more appropriate than a facility ratepayers are being asked to pay for.”
There was widespread support for the campaign from those attending the public meeting.
After, campaign chairman Colin Buick (pictured) told the Times he was delighted with the support.
He said: “When this began we were overwhelmed with the proposal and the lengths to which Becon and Arc21 had already gone.
“This is a huge facility and they have already spent seven or eight million on the proposal to date. It is a big organisation.
“But following this meeting and seeing the energy and drive people have against the proposal, I have confidence and I believe we can beat it.”