MP urges re-think over energy plant at burnhouse

LAGAN Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has urged the company behind a scheme to build an Energy from Waste plant on the site of the former burnhouse on the Moira Road to re-consider.

The scheme was first mooted last year, but people living near the site were issued with details of the application from the Planning Service a few weeks ago and asked to give their views by March 15.

However, Mr Donaldson said he was concerned about the impact such a plant could have on an essentially residential area.

“It would be much better for this plant to be put in an industrial estate,” he said. “The proposed plant is on the edge of Lagan Valley Regional Park and the Council intends to invest in this area and the last thing we want is a plant in an area of scenic beauty.”

The company behind the scheme insists it is a tried and tested way to produce electricity in an environmentally friendly way but Stephen Bloomer, who only moved into the area last November, said he was shocked when he got the letter from the planners as he wasn’t aware of the original application.

He said he was worried about the implications for the people in the surrounding area if the planning application, lodged by Lisburn Energy Recovery Ltd, is given the go-ahead.

He said: “My fears and concerns with this proposed development are the effect on the local environment with regards to the smell of the ‘gasification’ of waste and what type of pollutants could be emitted to the atmosphere and what type of waste will be used in the plant.

“If, as has been suggested, it is going to be blood and bones this would be a major set back in terms of the local community. I am quite sure none of our local councillors would want this type of plant on their own doorstep.”

Last year a spokesman from SLR Consulting Ltd, the agent for the application, explained the company’s facilities treat municipal and commercial waste. He said: “BioGen Power is the UK’s largest and fastest growing renewable energy company in the UK using Advanced Conversion technology (ACT) to treat non hazardous waste.”

He said the firm uses ‘modern and well proven gasification and pyrolysis technology to dispose of waste’.

“The technology utilised by BioGen Power and proposed for our facility at Lisburn has over 450,000 hours of successful operational uptime” he said. “There are eight Energos facilities operating across Europe with the most recent located at Sarpsborg, near Oslo. This is a similar sized facility as that planned for Lisburn.

“The Energos facility at Sarpsborg is the second to be built there and for the same customer, providing renewable electricity and steam. I don’t think that the people of Sarpsborg would have allowed a second facility to be built in their city had they not been pleased with the original facility built there in 2003.”

The spokesman said gasification was not incineration.

“Rather, we use a partial combustion process which creates a gas rather than smoke, there are few emissions (emissions are generally less than 10% of EU permitted levels). The gas is then used to heat water in a conventional boiler, raising steam which then drives a steam turbine that produces low carbon renewable electricity, just like a power station, though far cleaner and greener.

“Instead of generating electricity by using our limited and valuable fossil fuels, we use waste to make energy.”