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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Permission granted for £6M waste treatment plant in Antrim despite 223 objections

Elevations of the modified thermal recovery building and (inset) 3MW combined heat and power plant.

Elevations of the modified thermal recovery building and (inset) 3MW combined heat and power plant.

Planning permission has been granted for a £6m waste treatment facility at an industrial estate in Antrim despite 223 objections.

The application was given the go-ahead at a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s planning committee on Tuesday evening.

The proposal is for change of use at an existing waste transfer building to a thermal recovery building utilising a combined heat and powerplant and external changes to the building including two stacks and condensers at Caulside Drive, in Newpark Industrial Estate.

Planning officer Alicia Leathem told the committee the process will generate electricity to power the plant at McQuillan Envirocare waste treatment and transfer facility and heat water,  a by-product of the recovery process, on the site, adjacent buildings as well as a neighbouring business.

The report said:

“The applicant, McQuillan Envirocare Ltd seeks to change the use of an existing waste treatment and transfer facility building to a thermal recovery facility to produce heat and power.

“The site is currently Northern Ireland’s primary hazardous waste transfer station for solid wastes with a chemical treatment facility for both hazard and non-hazardous waste.”

The report notes pharmaceutical waste comes from customers such as Almac Group and health trusts. NI Water and DuPont are also listed.

It also indicated “feedstocks” for the proposed thermal recovery facility include pharmaceutical waste, oil sludge, paint/adhesives, rags/wipes, polymer waste, laboratory smalls/solid toxic solvents and various liquid solvents.

The officer indicated that statutory bodies have not raised any objections and DAERA Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate has no objections to the proposal. However, she reported there has been “a large volume of objections” from other parties.

Antrim Ulster Unionist Councillor Leah Smyth, who is not a committee member, told the meeting she met with the applicant McQuillan’s on site a few months ago.

She said she has been contacted “numerous times” about the application. She also stated she is a resident of Newpark.

Cllr Smyth said “What alarmed me the most is the lack of clarity about emissions and impact on local air quality. I do not see anything to convince me that particles will not be released.

“As a mother of two children with respiratory issues, I do not want it on their doorstep. It is far too close to a residential area. Residents are also concerned about noise.”

She also highlighted concerns about traffic and heavy goods vehicles’ movement particularly at Ballycraigy Road, which she described as “already busy” and added residents fear a “detrimental impact on the value of their home”.

“This incinerator is not wanted. I would urge you to please refuse the application.”

Addressing the committee, Antrim DUP Cllr Paul Dunlop BEM, a non-committee member, expressed concerns the proposal could potentially “pose a threat to public health” and may “endanger the health of the community”.

Cllr Dunlop went on to ask for more engagement between McQuillan’s and the local community before any decision by the committee.

Residential properties are located to the south in Caulside Park and to the east at New Lodge Road.

Planning agent Jenny Mawhinney described the application as a “small-scale energy recovery facility” and a “small-scale thermal processing facility”. She noted the site has been trading for more than 20 years and is regulated by DAERA (Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).

Permission was granted following a vote in which five councillors were in favour with one against and two abstentions.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Antrim and Newtownabbey Mayor Councillor Mark Cooper BEM said:

“I welcome this £6m green investment in our borough, the project aligns with the council’s commitment to sustainability by minimising environmental impact and optimising resource utilisation.”

Also commenting after the meeting, planning committee vice-chair Dunsilly Sinn Fein Cllr Henry Cushinan said:

“As one of Northern Ireland's leading waste management companies, it is great to see McQuillan Companies investing further in its Antrim facility, this forward-thinking initiative highlights its unwavering dedication to environmental stewardship and technological innovation.”


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