The group behind the controversial incinerator project at Mallusk says it wants to work with the restored Executive on new waste infrastructure.
Arc21, an umbrella body representing six councils in Northern Ireland, has welcomed the undertaking to tackle climate issues following the return of the Stormont Assembly.
In a statement, Tim Walker, acting chief executive of arc21, said: “The ‘New Decade, New Approach’ deal includes a welcome commitment to address climate change head on, introduce targets to reduce carbon emissions and an economic strategy to create jobs as part of a Green New Deal.
“By investing in new waste infrastructure that meets European best practice, we have the opportunity to start using our waste and resources better to help rather than hinder these policy objectives. arc21’s proposal for an Energy from Waste plant, for instance, will include Ireland’s largest integrated recycling facility.
“While we should be really proud of how much Northern Ireland’s recycling rates have improved, more needs to be done to meet the challenges of the next decades. While we develop green infrastructure, non-recylable waste will continue to be exported to Europe for incineration – an increasingly expensive option – or sent to landfill sites which are nearing capacity.
“arc21’s proposals will address these environmentally unfriendly practices, cut greenhouse gas emissions and provide renewable electricity and heat to stimulate new jobs.”
Mr. Walker added: “At present, households in arc21 councils produce c.250,000 tonne of waste annually that can’t be recycled. This is currently landfilled or exported for someone else to manage. That is unsustainable.
“arc21’s proposal is a tailor made, long-term solution for a long-term problem. It is accountable to local councils, good for the environment and beneficial for ratepayers.
“We look forward to working with the new Executive and discussing how we can start managing waste in a way which is fully traceable, benefits society and allows Northern Ireland to make a positive impact on the climate emergency.”
⦁Following the collapse of the Assembly, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) announced in September 2017 that full planning permission had been granted for the waste disposal facility at the Hightown Quarry site. However, the Court of Appeal subsequently ruled that Stormont officials did not have the legal authority to grant such permission.
Campaigners, led by NoArc21, vowed to continue their opposition after revised documents were submitted to the department last year and reiterated their concerns about visual impact, light and noise pollution and health implications after meeting the waste management group in November.