Newtownabbey incinerator: campaigners highlight Mallusk expansion

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Residents opposed to proposals for a waste treatment facility have highlighted how Mallusk has seen significant growth over the last 15 years, claiming the project “isn’t appropriate” for the area.

The proposed project is designed to deal with waste from a significant portion of the population. The £240m scheme was originally turned down in 2015 by the then Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan.

arc21, set up on behalf of councils in Belfast, Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ards and North Down, Lisburn and Castlereagh, Mid and East Antrim, and Newry, Mourne and Down, then secured approval from the Planning Appeals Commission.

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Civil servants agreed to give the plant the go ahead following a collapse in the Stormont Executive. But the High Court subsequently ruled there was no power to approve the incinerator without a minister being in place.

A computer generated image of the proposed waste treatment facility in the Boghill Road area of Mallusk. (Pic: Contributed).A computer generated image of the proposed waste treatment facility in the Boghill Road area of Mallusk. (Pic: Contributed).
A computer generated image of the proposed waste treatment facility in the Boghill Road area of Mallusk. (Pic: Contributed).

The Department for Infrastructure announced in September 2017 that full planning permission had been granted for the facility at the Hightown Quarry site. However, in 2018 the Court of Appeal ruled that Stormont officials did not have the legal authority to grant permission for the facility.

The plans were also refused in March 2022 by then Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon. Citing the 5,000 objections to the proposals, she said the facility could result in an increased market for waste disposal and discourage recycling. However, that decision was quashed by High Court judge Mr Justice Humphreys in May 2023.

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Mallusk incinerator: refusal of planning permission for project quashed

Members of No-Arc21, the community group established to highlight residents’ concerns over the plans have conducted research, highlighting how the Mallusk area has developed over the past 15 years.

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The group has voiced concern around the impact the plant would have on the volume of traffic in the area, over health and safety and cost since the plans were first put forward

Chair of No-Arc21, Colin Buick, said: "We first heard rumours of a waste incinerator at Hightown Quarry as far back as 2008. Back then Hightown was much less developed than it is today.”

He added that “our research shows there have been hundreds of new houses constructed in developments such as Blackrock, Dermont and Aylesbury”, bringing new families into the area.

"This is in addition to developments which have recently received planning permission and will soon be built: a significant mixed-use development just off the Hightown Road consisting of almost 350 homes, a care facility for the elderly, a neighbourhood supermarket and a petrol station, and a housing development which was also recently approved just off Park Road, consisting of 160 homes.”

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This significant increase in the residential population, he added, is complemented by other plans in the area which involve other community and commercial uses.

He added there were concerns too over the impact of the proposed facility on natural habits.

“We’ve an abundance of green spaces such as Hyde Park and Cave Hill, which provide us with an escape to nature for our physical and mental wellbeing.

"The Woodland Trust has spent over half a million pounds in acquiring 250 acres close to Cave Hill to create a new woodland which would hugely improve biodiversity and help tackle climate change, through planting trees which would absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

"If the waste incinerator wasn’t appropriate at a time when Hightown was relatively less developed, then it certainly isn’t appropriate now.”