Date set for Arc21 incinerator appeal court hearing

By Conor Macauley
BBC NI Agriculture & Environment Correspondent

  • Published
An artist's impression of the proposed waste facilityImage source, Becon Consortium
Image caption,
An artist's impression of the proposed waste facility

A date has been set for a court challenge which will establish what decisions civil servants can take in the absence of ministers.

It has been given an expedited hearing to speed up the legal process.

The head of the Civil Service David Sterling said last month that the appeal was necessary.

He said it was needed to establish what decisions could be taken by civil servants without an executive.

In May a judge decided that the permanent secretary of the Department for Infrastructure did not have the power to give the £240m project the go-ahead.

Peter May had argued that the decision was necessary to ensure Northern Ireland complied with waste targets.

The Arc21 incinerator had been turned down by a previous environment minister before changes to planning laws meant responsibility for regionally important planning decisions passed to the infrastructure department.

Campaigners opposed the incinerator on health grounds and had argued that it would discourage recycling.

Image caption,
The NoArc21 group is opposed to the incinerator at Glengormley

They mounted a successful legal challenge to Mr May's decision to approve the waste plant.

Mr Sterling said that outcome had "potentially wide ranging implications" in the absence of ministers.

He said the appeal would provide greater "clarity" on the legal position in which civil servants found themselves.

The Department for Infrastructure said it would not take any other regionally important planning decisions until the matter was cleared up.