CALNI calls on Poots to come clean over plans for waste incinerator during election purdah period

The Communities Against the Lough Neagh Incinerator (CALNI) has today called on DUP Environment Minister Edwin Poots to either confirm or deny allegations that he intends to issue a hugely controversial planning approval notice during the Assembly election purdah period, for the proposed £100million Rose Energy waste incinerator on the shores of Lough Neagh.

Speaking today CALNI President Danny Moore said,

“This is the most controversial planning application in Northern Ireland with almost 7,000 letters of objection against it – the highest number of objections ever submitted against a planning application in Northern Ireland. Objections have also been made by prominent local employers such as Randox Laboratories in Crumlin.

“Last month CALNI submitted further expert technical objections to Planning Service and more are due to be submitted next week in relation to localised environmental impacts of the incinerator.

“CALNI requested a meeting with Minister Poots last month to discuss these issues. The request to meet him was denied because it was stated the purdah period had commenced.

“This week, informed sources have told CALNI that the Minister intends to issue a planning approval for the incinerator days before he leaves his DOE post prior to the 5th May election day.

“The Northern Ireland Executive purdah guidance issued by the Head of Civil Service (14-2-11) and seen by CALNI clearly states in Section 6 that ‘Decisions on matters of policy which an incoming Minister and, where appropriate, the Executive might expect an opportunity to consider should usually be postponed until after the election’. There is a strong likelihood that a new Minister from a Party other than the DUP would either refuse or grant a public inquiry into the incinerator planning application.

“The guidance in Section 7 also states ‘there is a presumption that official support should not be provided in relation to matters which could be seen to have a direct material bearing upon the Assembly election campaign.’ Approving this application can be seen as a clear attempt to gain electoral support from the poultry industry ahead of the Assembly election.

“There can be no doubt that Minister Poots should NOT issue a planning approval during purdah.

“CALNI is therefore calling on Minister Poots to publicly confirm whether he will or will not issue this hugely controversial decision before 5th May”, concluded Mr Moore.

ENDS

For further information contact Sheila Davidson at CALNI on 07785 793 672
or
Nick Bell at Strategic Planning 07918 628606 nickbell@strategicplanning.uk.com

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