Sir Reg Empey was not able to make the CALNI candidates meeting on Thursday 28th April. However he took the time to meet with CALNI officers the following day. Commenting on the meeting, Danny Moore, CALNI President, said that Sir Reg “had clearly done quite a bit of preparation work for the meeting and was well briefed on a number of aspects of the application and our objection. We felt that the discussion went very well and that he fully understood where we were coming from and the strength of feeling in the area.”
Sir Reg has now issued a press release giving his considered views following the meeting. Commenting on this latest development, Danny Moore said “As you can tell from the release Sir Reg is the first MLA to grasp the absurdity of the situation for the poultry industry. Even if they manage to bulldoze through an approval at this stage not only will CALNI seek a Judicial Review of that decision, but there are a raft of other things that would need to happen before Rose would ever get up and running – not least the follow up application to connect the plant to the grid. Thus, betting the future of the poultry industry on the outcome of a series of highly risky decisions that could easily take five years to work through is beyond reckless. It is time to step back and reassess the options.”
CALNI welcomes the views expressed in the Empey statement, which is reproduced below.
As a community organisation, CALNI jealously guards its non-party political and cross-community standing. There is no implied support for the views on other issues of either Sir Reg Empey or his party.
Following meetings with both those in support and against the proposed the Rose Energy poultry litter incinerator at Glenavy, UUP Leader and South Antrim conservatives and unionist candidate Sir Reg Empey has expressed his serious concern at the implications of the dispute for the poultry industry in Northern Ireland.
Sir Reg stated,
“This is by far the most controversial planning application in South Antrim and in Northern Ireland . How it is handled could have major implications for Northern Ireland ’s poultry industry. I have carefully listened to the case put forward by Rose Energy and the opposing views of thousands of objectors through the local CALNI organisation (Communities Against the Lough Neagh Incinerator) and Randox Laboratories.
“Given the very detailed planning and technical differences of opinion presented by both sides, there is an absolute need for a public inquiry into the planning application. A failure by Environment Minister Edwin Poots to grant such an inquiry would be a grave injustice for the many thousands of people in South Antrim who are demanding it.
“However, even with or without a public inquiry, the objectors to the project are clearly sufficiently determined and resourced to fight any attempt to grant planning approval for the incinerator.
“Thus, even if a public inquiry approves planning for the incinerator, there will undoubtedly be sustained legal action from the objectors to challenge such an outcome and block the construction of the incinerator.
“The potential for delays of up to five years from the outworking of this dispute will therefore place the Northern Ireland poultry industry in a potentially catastrophic position, considering the European Commission’s patience with our poultry farmer’s non-compliance with the Nitrates Directive will inevitably run out.
“It is the role of elected politicians in positions of power to exercise balanced judgement and leadership in these situations. I have considered all the issues and I feel that to allow this dispute to carry on without any definitive timescale for resolution is both dangerous and reckless for our poultry industry.
“We therefore need an urgent need reassessment of this project and a re-evaluation of both alternative sites and technologies for the disposal of poultry litter. I intend to raise this matter with my Executive colleagues at Stormont as soon as the General election is over”, Sir Reg concluded.