Northern Ireland

MLA calls for incinerator debate

An Ulster Unionist MLA has called on the environment minister to inform the public about the pros and cons of incinerating waste.

Danny Kinahan was speaking after Edwin Poots said he agreed with planners' decision to turn down a £40m facility on the outskirts of north Belfast.

The consortium behind the plan, Veridis, wanted to turn commercial and industrial waste into energy.

Mr Kinahan said it was "time for clarity" on the issue.

Last year Belfast City Council rejected plans to build a similar facility in the north of the city.

And the environment minister still has to rule on a controversial proposal to build a chicken litter incinerator at Glenavy in County Antrim.

Mr Kinahan said a lack of information about modern incineration techniques and "establishing how different they are from those used in the past, is preventing people from making informed judgements".

Controversial

"This is the third controversial proposal for a waste incinerator in Northern Ireland in recent years. What this tells me is that the minister for the environment is getting something wrong.

"Either we are for such developments, and are prepared to meet infrastructural needs, or we are not.

"We cannot allow companies to get so far down the road of developing their plans if the Minister and the planning system are categorically against any such development."

Veridis argued that there were many similar facilities across Europe and that the proposal for the Ballyutoag Road was based on a project in Slovenia, which had been funded by the European Union and achieved BAT (Best Available Techniques) status.

The consortium also said that Northern Ireland needed to look closely at its energy security and how it planned to meet strict EU targets to reduce landfill.

Mr Kinahan said he agreed with that position.

He added: "Producing energy from waste is an option that has been used in other parts of the world, and while I recognise that there is genuine and understandable caution amongst the public, better information could ease many fears."

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