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”.

Ends//…

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CALNI welcomes DARD Ministers renewed commitment to look at alternative technologies for disposal of poultry litter

Representatives of the Communities Against the Lough Neagh Incinerator (CALNI) met with DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA in Stormont yesterday to discuss various issues around the proposed £100million Rose Energy incinerator on the shores of Lough Neagh.

Speaking after the meeting CALNI Spokesperson, Sir George Bain, welcomed the Minister’s statement during the discussion that she has instructed her officials to revisit the issue and provide new advice on potential alternative solutions to dealing with the disposal of poultry litter.

Sir George added,

“The Minister made it clear that her Party opposes the incineration of waste.

“We discussed some very serious issues around the project – some of which will remain private for now.

“We specifically raised our concern as to why Northern Ireland poultry farmers are apparently under threat of infraction proceedings, given the seemingly chaotic approach to compliance with the Nitrates Directive across the EU by other Members States. We presented the Minister with research provided by the European Parliament which illustrates that of the 27 EU Member States only 12 are actually doing anything in terms of attempting to comply with the Nitrates Directive. Indeed, only 4 of the 12 Members States use incineration.

“We asked the Minister and DARD to encourage Rose Energy to present its own alternatives to disposing of poultry litter, as its current strategy is clearly not working.”

“We reiterated that CALNI fully supports the poultry and wider agriculture industry – indeed many of our members are farmers themselves – but this is a deeply flawed proposal on a totally inappropriate site,” he concluded.

ENDS.

For further information contact:

Nick Bell at Strategic Planning
07918 628606 nickbell@strategicplanning.uk.com

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No approval yet for chicken-waste plant

Great article from today’s Irish News on Rose Energy’s failure to secure planning approval for the Glenavy incinerator a year after former minister Edwin Poots indicated his intention to approve planning.

The controversial chicken waste-burning power plant on the shores of Lough Neagh has yet to secure planning approval a year after former environment minister Edwin Poots indicated that the go-ahead would be given. Coupled with new environment minister Alex Attwood’s assurances that he will re-examine the application, the revelation raises fresh doubts over Rose Energy’s plans to build the incinerator near Glenavy in Co Antrim.

A year ago yesterday amid mounting pressure from the north’s powerful farming and agribusiness lobby, Mr Poots outlined his support for the loughside development. Although there was widespread expectation that the plans would go to public inquiry, a statement issued by Mr Poots’s department said it was the DUP minister’s intention to approve plans for the 30 megawatt waste-to-energy plant.

He claimed the project would create “in the region of 300 to 400 construction jobs” and up to 30 permanent jobs once operational. Mr Poots said the north’s poultry industry was important for the economy.

Rose Energy, a joint venture between Brazilian-owned poultry processor Moy Park and livestock rendering company Glenfarm Holdings, claim the plant will help the north comply with environmental regulations. Recent pollution-curbing legislation means there are greater controls on how potentially harmful animal waste generated by farmers and agribusinesses can be disposed of.

Rose Energy believes the solution is to burn it – including excrement and bones – and create enough electricity to power 25,000 homes in the process. But its plans have been met with fierce opposition from residents. Last night Communities Against the Lough Neagh Incinerator (Calni) welcomed confirmation that the Rose Energy planning application had never been formally approved.

Calni chairman Ray Clarke said it was a “significant milestone” in the group’s ongoing campaign of opposition. Highlighting how almost 7,000 people had objected to the incinerator, Mr Clarke reiterated his call for a public inquiry. “Calni remains steadfast in its belief that this application is one of the worst ever submitted in Northern Ireland and that it should be refused outright,” he said.

In July the Irish News revealed how Mr Poots ignored the opinion of senior planners when granting the go-ahead for a controversial out of-town superstore in Co Down. Planning Service’s strategic projects
team recommended refusing the application for a 10,000sq m Tesco store at Bridgewater Park near Banbridge because it would damage trade in the town. Mr Poots gave the green light for the store in
March just minutes before leaving the Department of Environment ahead of the elections.

A previous bid to build a Tesco store at the same site had been dismissed two years earlier following a public inquiry. Last night a spokesman for the DoE told The Irish News: “As the consultation process on the two planning applications is ongoing the department is not yet in a position to make a recommendation on the way forward.

“When all material planning matters have been fully considered the department will make a recommendation to the minister on whether to proceed by way of a notice of opinion to approve or refuse the application, or by way of a public inquiry.”

“As the consultation process on the two planning applications is ongoing the department is not yet in a position to make a recommendation on the way forward. When all material planning matters have been
fully considered the department will make a recommendation to the minister on whether to proceed by way of a notice of opinion to approve or refuse the application or by way of a public inquiry.”

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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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Alternative to Glenavy Incinerator within reach if farmers given appropriate DETI backing

CALNI Chairman Ray Clarke has called on the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment to assist farmers to progress their own solutions for the disposal of poultry litter in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Clarke’s remarks come in response to an assembly question posed to Minister Foster by local SDLP MLA Thomas Burns.

Mr Burns asked Minister Foster if the same level of Government funding, estimated to be in the region of £30million from Invest NI, earmarked for the proposed Lough Neagh Incinerator, could be offered to farming co-operatives who wish to build Anaerobic Digestion plants for the disposal of poultry litter.

In response to Minister Foster’s remarks, CALNI Chairman Ray Clarke said, “The Minister’s answer side-stepped the main issue by stating that the £100million Glenavy incinerator project has yet to receive any INI funding. She stated that the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO), which merely places an obligation on electricity suppliers to source a proportion of electricity from renewable sources, was DETI’s main mechanism for incentivising the type of renewable electricity generation proposed by Mr Burns.

“It simply beggars belief that the government are considering offering Moy Park tens of millions of pounds in attempt to address the poultry litter issue when a truly credible, cost-effective and proven means to do so lies within reach of local, Northern Irish farmers.”

“Minister Foster confirmed in her answer that electricity generated by the anaerobic digestion of biomass is eligible to claim ROCs. This means anaerobic digestion not only offers an opportunity to address the poultry litter issue but also a chance to support Northern Irish farmers, engender local enterprise and put the region’s energy future in the hands of local communities and not international corporations.

Mr. Clarke concluded, “We’re asking the Minister to take another look at this issue and simply consider the facts. DETI’s current course will result in further support for international multinationals at the expense of local, indigenous farming cooperatives, capable of creating greater economic and socioeconomic wellbeing right here in Northern Ireland. Within the current economic climate such a move is inexcusable.

“We have no doubt an alternative to the incinerator at Glenavy is within reach if the Minister chooses to make the same levels of funding available to local farming cooperatives looking to the area of anaerobic digestion or other alternative energy solutions”.

Assembly Question:

Anaerobic Digestion Plants
Mr T Burns asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment whether the same level of grant support could be offered to farming co-operatives who wish to build Anaerobic Digestion plants for the disposal of poultry litter as an alternative to the proposed Lough Neagh Incinerator, thus safeguarding the future of the poultry industry and supporting farmers who invest in renewable energy projects.

(AQW 5018/11)

Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Mrs A Foster): In terms of assistance with the installation of Anaerobic Digestion Plants in farming co-operatives, the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO) is my Department’s main mechanism for incentivising renewable electricity generation. The NIRO is not a grant, but instead places an obligation on electricity suppliers to source an increasing proportion of electricity from renewable sources. Once accredited under the NIRO, a generating station, which could be operated by a farming co-operative, would receive Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) for the electricity generated which can then be sold to electricity suppliers. Electricity generated from gas formed by the anaerobic digestion of biomass is eligible to claim ROCs.
In respect of the proposed waste to energy plant at Lough Neagh, no financial assistance has been offered to this project to date and it is currently subject to an ongoing due diligence process.

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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