Plans have been unveiled for a £240m facility to treat municipal waste across the Arc21 waste management group area, which covers 11 councils in the east of Northern Ireland.
The proposals include creating a mechanical biological treatment facility alongside an energy from waste plant at Mallusk in County Antrim, which will be the first facility in Northern Ireland to combine the technologies.
The proposed plant will help the Arc21 councils, which are responsible for 54% of municipal waste created in Northern Ireland, to increase overall recycling levels within the area by up to 10 percentage points.
The current household recycling rate for the area is 39%, and targets for Northern Ireland are likely to increase to around 60% by 2020, as reported by MRW last year.
The project will also export 14MW electricity to the National Grid.
Ricky Burnett, policy and operations director of Arc21 said: “The proposals contain a mix of technologies and facilities which satisfies our requirements and is at a site which is well located for a development of this nature. It will significantly reduce our dependency on landfill and contribute to improving the security and diversity of energy production in Northern Ireland.”
The Becon Consortium, backed by E.ON Energy from Waste, will develop the facilities in the existing Hightown Quarry on the Boghill Road pending planning permission, permits and the completion of the procurement process.
A public consultation has also been launched, including a project website and community drop-in sessions. Becon Consortium project director Ian Smith said: “As this project will introduce this type of technology to Northern Ireland for the first time, we are expecting a number of questions and issues to be raised.”
Full operation of the facility is expected within four years of securing planning permission.
E.ON Energy from Waste currently operates 19 plants in Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.