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Controversial chicken waste biomass plant gets go-ahead

A controversial biomass facility which is fuelled on poultry bedding has been approved by Northern Ireland’s environment minister Edwin Poots.

The facility will generate around 30MW of electricity from poultry bedding, which is made up of poultry manure, sawdust and wood shavings, meat and bone meal, and it will have enough capacity to use all the poultry bedding in the country. 

Rose Energy applied for permission to build and operate the plant at Glenavy, County Antrim. It is backed by a consortium of three agricultural firms, Moy Parl, O’Kane Poultry and Glenfarm Holdings.

The poultry industry generates more than £2m to Belfast Port and the main poultry producers.

Poots said: “The power plant facility will create in the region of 300-400 construction jobs and approximately 30 permanent jobs in the operation of the facility once constructed. It will also have indirect employment and investment benefits in connection with Belfast Port and the haulage industry in Northern Ireland.”

Currently, biomass is recognised as the only proven technology for treating poultry waste.

The minister added: “I am fully aware of both the opposition and support for the power plant, and I have a judgement to make between the benefits of the proposal to the poultry industry and the Northern Ireland economy and the potential adverse impacts on residential amenity and the landscape setting. Having given the proposal careful consideration, including visiting the site and viewing it from Lough Neagh, I am satisfied that on balance it should be approved.

“This type of investment is necessary to further stimulate the local economy, something the Executive is striving to secure. It is an example of investment that can contribute in many ways, providing long-term work, generating power, supporting local agriculture and related industries.”

The plant is expected to be up and running by late 2010 or early 2011.

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