DARD confirm 132 bird flocks at risk around Lough Neagh Incinerator
Bio-security of flocks in the poultry industry through out Northern Ireland was cited by Rose Energy as one of the main reasons for selecting the Lough Neagh site for their incinerator.
However, in a potential knockout blow, figures just released by DARD have confirmed that there are up to 132 flocks of chickens and turkeys within the recognised best practice 10km bio-security clearance zone.
This does not include the many thousands of migratory wild birds which are also located around the proposed incinerator area of Rams Island and Portmore Lough and which DARD acknowledges are actually the greatest risk of spreading Avian Flu. Locals argue that the proximity to one of the most unique winter bird habitats in Europe makes Lough Neagh one of the worst possible sites in Northern Ireland for such a plant.
In their own words DARD say “It is very difficult if not impossible to contain disease within wild birds, particularly if they are migratory.”
Denis Brankin, a local poultry farmer with 4,500 free range hens just 300 metres from the proposed incinerator is deeply angry that the threat to his livelihood is being ignored.
“I have built my business up over the last 15 years and we sell eggs across five counties in Northern Ireland. Noise, water discharge, pollutants and smell could have a drastic effect on our production and an incinerator literally next door would destroy our entire free range ethos.
“Surely this plant would be better suited to an industrial setting? I know better than anyone that the poultry industry needs a solution to the chicken litter problem but a rural farming community on the shores of Lough Neagh is not the solution.”
An expert planning consultant for CALNI, Beverley Stevenson of Strategic Planning explains,
“In Rose Energy’s Site Selection Assessment, the applicant applied considerable weight to bio-security as a reason for choosing the Lough Neagh site. However, the evidence from DARD weakens the arguments made by Rose Energy and places a very serious question mark over the deeply flawed Rose Energy proposition and may well increase the potential for a legal challenge if the proposal is approved.”
Ray Clarke, Chairman of CALNI has repeated the local community demand for a public inquiry, if not an outright rejection of the planning application.
“It is quite clear that other sites such as Ballymena or Kilroot would be more sensible locations if incineration is considered the only solution to the chicken litter problem.”
“DARD has also confirmed that under the Animal By-Products Regulations (NI) 2003, that chicken litter and meat and bone meal are Category 1 and Category 2 materials. A Category 1 plant can burn animal carcasses in the event of an outbreak of disease and as such must ensure that the ‘demonstrable harm test’ has been fully considered. This has not been done in the case of this Incinerator and we believe it should be another requirement under the Environmental Impact Regulations.
“As it stands, this proposal to destroy the face of Lough Neagh; harm local wildlife; decimate the business of local farmers and put at serious risk high level manufacturing businesses in the locality has absolutely no positive economic or environmental outcome.
“If we need additional electricity it can be generated more cheaply and efficiently elsewhere. The overall impact on the poultry industry will be disastrous and it will have cost the taxpayer more than £30m for the dubious privilege.
“The Environment Minister Edwin Poots has to call a public inquiry or refuse this application. He should encourage Rose Energy to look at other more viable locations or DARD should take more seriously its responsibility to investigate new technologies.
“It will be a disgrace if we have to take legal action to Judicially Review a decision by a local Minister because we know he will lose.”