Alternative solutions to Lough Neagh incinerator exist Officials tell Stormont committee

Yesterday officials from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) gave evidence to the DARD committee at Stormont on the ‘Review of alternative technologies to fluidised bed combustion for poultry litter utilisation/disposal’.

The main thrust of the committee meeting was the exploration of the use of alternative technology other than the proposed incinerator on the shore of Lough Neagh; the scientific advancements in the period that this planning application has been live; and the disposal and use of poultry litter as a source of renewable energy across a number of smaller sites rather than one larger site in the wrong location.

The officials stated that NI needs to have a longer term plan in place to dispose of poultry litter before European regulations are enforced in 2014. An interdepartmental report has revealed that gasification (as opposed to incineration) across multiple sites is a real alternative.

Today in the context of the evidence presented to the Agricultural and Rural Development Committee – Communities Against the Lough Neagh Incinerator (CALNI) has called on Moy Park in particular to give serious consideration to alternative solutions to the Rose Energy incinerator. The proposal has been overwhelming rejected by the local community.

Ray Clarke, CALNI Chair and local resident, reacted:

“As outlined at the Agricultural and Rural Development Committee yesterday it is blatantly obvious that alternatives exist, we know that, the scientific community knows that and government officials know that.

We are worried that these alternatives are not being developed at a fast enough rate in Northern Ireland. Progress needs to be made in the next 18 months or we will have to seriously consider the export of poultry litter to other parts of the UK.

It has to be said that although the export approach could cost around £2-4 million per year this number is an order of magnitude lower than the upfront subsidies required to build the Rose Energy incinerator, and would equate to less than 0.5% of Moy Park’s £921.1m 2011 turnover. This additional expense would hardly spell the end for the industry.

Furthermore, we have spent time researching the issue and it is clear that no other European country relies on incineration as the primary means of disposal

He added:

“For the first few years of this campaign, the mantra from Moy Park was that the sector would implode immediately if this, the most controversial planning application in Northern Ireland history, was not passed immediately. It is now almost five years on and there has been no implosion and based on the numbers there isn’t likely to be one.

The core issues behind the Rose Energy objection remain intact. Incineration itself is one of the most contentious subjects across the EU. Both Sinn Fein and the SDLP are explicitly anti-incineration in their manifestos, and a number of leading European countries have expressly outlawed development of any new incinerators at the national level.

The Rose Energy plant is proposed on a green field site in a designated area of high scenic value, making a complete mockery of the area plans. As it stands, the plant would still release 60 tonnes of water per hour at an elevated temperature into the Glenavy River and Lough Neagh, a unique global habitat not to mention the source of drinking water supply for over 50% of the NI population. If the plant were to go ahead it would simply be an act of vandalism. Today we call on Moy Park to stop stalling and start working on an alternative solution”.

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