Northern Ireland

Hightown waste incinerator: Planning permission refused

An artist's impression of the proposed waste facility Image copyright Becon Consortium
Image caption An artist's impression of the proposed waste facility

Planning permission for a controversial waste incinerator on the outskirts of Belfast has been refused.

Arc21's proposal for a recycling plant and incinerator would have created more than 300 jobs, but will not go ahead.

The £240m proposal at a former quarry in Hightown would have taken waste from 11 of the former council areas in Northern Ireland.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said he was not satisfied the development would not cause harm to human health.

"Therefore I consider the development should be refused," he said.

"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."

Recycling targets

The company behind the Arc21 project said it was very disappointed at the refusal.

"Given the importance and complexity of the issues involved, Arc21 will take time to consider the notification in detail before making further comment," its spokesperson said.

Planners had recommended that the proposed incinerator be approved, subject to certain conditions, but the environment minister chose not to accept their advice.

While planning is now the responsibility of local councils, regionally significant projects are still decided on by the department.

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Media captionEnvironment Minister Mark H Durkan said he believed approving the site could ultimately create a market for waste

But it was controversial from the start with residents of Glengormley opposing it because of concerns about traffic and the effect on property prices.

The company behind the plan claimed it would divert 250,000 tonnes of waste from landfill every year helping Northern Ireland meet strict EU recycling targets.

Refusal of planning permission leaves the councils with a problem of how to deal with their waste and how to meet those targets.

Community campaign

The company does have the right to appeal the decision to the Planning Appeals Commission.

More than 3,500 objections were lodged with planners.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly welcomed the decision.

"This is a significant victory for the communities of north Belfast and south Antrim in stopping the controversial proposal for the Hightown incinerator," he said.

"This is the correct decision and it's one taken on the back of a well-organised community campaign and a volume of objections based on logical community concerns."

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