DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT
21 December 2012
Environment Minister Alex Attwood is to refuse planning permission for the Rose Energy proposal on the shores of Lough Neagh.
The proposal influencing Co Antrim was for construction of a large scale Energy from Waste facility to incinerate chicken litter in Glenavy in Co Antrim.
Alex Attwood said: “I have carefully interrogated the many issues surrounding this complex planning application. However, I have decided that on balance the environmental and other impacts outweigh the economic arguments.
“I fully accept that the poultry industry is of great importance to the local economy and there is a need to find alternative and sustainable methods of the disposal of waste from the industry. I have met with the Agri-food industry – I will work with the industry to take forward developments and job prospects.
“However economic arguments must be balanced against the protection of the environment and other needs. In my view a facility of this scale should not be located in a sensitive rural location on the shores of Lough Neagh. I am also concerned by the negative impact on the amenity of surrounding dwellings and the wider community as well as a general increase of heavy traffic on rural roads. It is also contrary to current rural planning policy and has impacts on other businesses and industry.
“While accepting a need to deal with waste from the poultry industry I can see no site specific need in relation to this particular location. I stress that I do support the concept of Energy from Waste, but such facilities must be properly located. This proposal is not in the right place.
“I should also make clear that the Rose energy project, even if granted planning permission, would not have assisted in Northern Ireland meeting its EU commitments on Nitrates Action. This is a view shared by senior figures in the agricultural and economic development sectors who have written to me to make this point and to recommend intensive efforts to find alternative solutions.”
Minister Attwood further stated: “In conjunction with the recently announced research competition to find more sustainable methods of disposal I would urge all interested parties to work with DOE. It is important that we find the proper alternative solutions for land spread of poultry waste which reaches the right balance between protecting the environment and meeting the long term needs of the industry in a sustainable manner.”
The Minister concluded: “This application has been in the system since 2008. As with all major planning applications I am determined to clear the backlog after careful consideration of the merits of each case in order to bring certainty to all involved.”
Notes to editors:
1. A planning application for a Biomass Fuelled Power Plant was submitted on 4 June 2008 accompanied by an Environmental Statement. The applicant is Rose Energy Limited.
2. The application seeks full approval for a plant that will be fuelled mostly by poultry bedding with a smaller amount of meat and bone meal (approximately 260,000 tonnes per annum). The power plant is designed generate approximately 30MW of electricity as an output of the incineration process. A connection to the NIE grid does not form part of this planning application.
3. The proposal comprises the main facility structure which is made of a number of buildings including a boiler house (42m high), material intake and holding buildings (14.5m & 24m high), a turbine hall and control room (24m high). It also involves a bank of three 3 cooling towers 15m in height and a chimney 80m in height. Other external structures include an office block, emergency generator, weighbridge, waste water treatment building, ash bag filtration and silo, NIE metering and switch yard, MBM silo, sprinkler tanks and pump house, substation and car parking and circulation areas.
4. Alongside the principal application for the power plant is a separate application for a Water Abstraction facility and associated pipeline. This separate but associated application was received on 12 June 2009 and comprises a sump with pumping equipment and a valve chamber. It is designed to abstract 160 cubic metres of water per hour from Lough Neagh. Waste water is treated, cooled and pumped into the Glenavy River.
5. Both planning applications were designated as major applications under Article 31 of the Planning (NI) Order 1991.
6. The site for the power plant extends to approximately 5 hectares and is located in a rural location close to the shores of Lough Neagh, approximately 2km southwest of Glenavy.
7. The Department has received a significant number of representations in relation to this application. To date there are in excess of 13,000 representations – around 6,400 in support and 6,800 objections. Support is based on employment generation, the need for such a facility to allow the poultry industry to comply with the Nitrates Directive in terms of the disposal of poultry waste and the importance of the poultry industry to the NI economy. Objections to the proposal are on the grounds of its visual impact in a rural location, the impact on residential amenity including noise and disturbance, the impacts on air and water quality and nature conservation and traffic impact. There is also an objection from Randox Laboratories in relation to a perceived adverse impact on their healthcare business in terms of air quality.
8. The Department has been considering further environmental information submitted following a legal challenge by the local objectors group – Campaign Against Lough Neagh Incinerator (CALNI) – launched when the previous Minister announced his intention to approve. Grounds for challenge included policy interpretation and the fact that the grid connection does not form part of the proposal. The legal challenge is being held in abeyance until the Department makes a formal decision.
9. The next step in the process is to issue a Notice of Opinion to Refuse planning permission. Under Article 31 the applicant has 28 days to exercise the right to seek a hearing before the PAC to consider proposed reasons for refusal. If Rose Energy chooses to follow this route the PAC will make a recommendation to the Department on the basis of the evidence presented at the hearing. The final decision rests with the Department.
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