Full planning permission has been granted for a Residual Waste Treatment Facility at Hightown Quarry in Newtownabbey.
The proposed development on the Boghill Road is designed to deal with waste from a significant portion of the population and includes a Mechanical and Biological Treatment facility, an Energy from Waste Thermal Treatment facility, an Incinerator Bottom Ash Treatment facility, a Refuse Derived Fuel Bale Storage building and an Administration/Visitor Centre.
Commenting on the approval, a Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said: “The Department has today published the independent report prepared by the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) following a hearing into the proposal held in October 2016.
“During the two day hearing, the Commission heard submissions and considered evidence from all parties before presenting its findings to the Department.
The PAC report includes full consideration of the planning issues and recommends that planning permission is granted.”
The spokesperson added: “Importantly, the report endorses the strategic need for the facility, its compliance with regional policy and the significant environmental benefit in terms of meeting waste management/treatment targets and assisting in the battle against waste crime.
“In arriving at the final decision, the Department carefully considered and agreed with the independent report and recommendations. The planning conditions attached to the permission also take account of the PAC’s considerations.
“The Department considers that it is in the public interest to take this decision, without further delay, given the strategic importance of the project for the region.”
Welcoming the announcement, a spokesperson for arc21 said: “Today’s decision will enable arc21 to progress its plans to deliver new waste infrastructure.
“The proposed facilities will help bring the region into line with European best practice, significantly reduce our over-reliance on landfill, enhance recycling rates and help tackle illegality in the waste sector.
“Representing an investment of approximately £240m, it is one of Northern Ireland’s largest infrastructure projects with considerable economic benefits.”