A Northern Ireland waste consortium has expressed disappointment that the minister has rejected a £240m incinerator despite planning officials backing the scheme.
Arc21, which represents six councils in the east of Northern Ireland, wanted to build the EfW facility at the disused Hightown quarry, near Newtownabbey outside Belfast, to treat up to 300,000 tonnes of waste.
Stormont’s environment minister Mark H Durkan rejected the proposals on health grounds and concerns it could discourage recycling. There were also questions about the need for such a facility.
The Development Management Report had recommended the EfW plant be approved, saying it was “content that the scale of arc21’s proposed facility is appropriate relative to the quantum of waste councils are required to divert from landfill.”
It added: “There is a need for such a facility to support a resource efficient, low carbon circular economy at the regional level by extracting value from residual waste in the form of energy in accordance with the waste hierarchy.”
Durkan said he was “committed” to a policy of zero waste and had supported councils to increase recycling rates.
But he added: “This development could result in an increased market for waste disposal and to maintain a facility such as this, in addition to the other approved waste facilities, could discourage recycling. In that context I do not consider there to be any need for this proposal.
“I am also not satisfied that this development, in the context of the zero waste programe, will not cause harm to human health and would share the fears of the public representations in this regard.”
Arc21 has 28 days to appeal against the minister’s decision. A spokesperson said expressed disappointment and added: “Given the importance and complexity of the issues involved arc21 will take time to consider the notification in detail before making further comment.”
The residual waste treatment centre would have created 300 jobs and incorporated an MBT, an EfW thermal treatment facility, incinerator bottom ash facility, a refuse-derived fuel bale storage building plus an administration and visitor centre.
The facility attracted 3,526 objections and one petition objecting containing 836 signatures.