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Circular economy drive boosts Northern Ireland EfW claims

The developers of a large energy-from-waste (EfW) facility in Northern Ireland say the EU’s circular economy (CE) proposals indicate that the country will need up to three times the current planned treatment capacity.

The Becon Consortium, a private sector group backing a £240m integrated waste management facility for local authorities at Hightown Quarry, Mallusk (pictured), has seized on analysis in a letter from a senior official at the Department of Environment’s policy division.

The document was published as part of the recent planning approval for increased throughput for the Bombardier EfW facility for commercial and industrial waste in East Belfast.

The official, Tim Irwin, had replied to a colleague who asked if policy had changed since the European Commission published its CE proposals in December.

He noted “a significant shift in the future direction of travel for waste management”, which will have ”a major impact on our waste management infrastructure requirements” in Northern Ireland.

The current estimate for thermal capacity of between 200,000 and 350,000 tonnes a year would need to rise to 668,000–759,000 without compromising the required increase in recycling, he said.

Becon Consortium director John Ahern said support for a greater volume of material for the Bombardier facility was evidence of a need for increased thermal treatment capacity in Northern Ireland.

“These developments now paint a very clear picture of the need for Northern Ireland to catch up with the rest of Europe, and to put in place the necessary infrastructure to both manage our waste more sustainably and maximise its value through material and energy recovery,” he said.

“We believe the £240m Becon project, designed to deal with municipal black bin waste from the arc21 council area, is a vital part of the solution to meet that growing need.

“It will provide the type of proven and reliable infrastructure that Northern Ireland needs to manage its waste and help it to meet its European obligations.”

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