Mallusk incinerator project: arc21 group to legally challenge planning permission refusal

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A consortium of six councils is set to legally challenge a Stormont department for blocking the multi-million pound incinerator project in Mallusk.

The arc21 umbrella waste management group has been granted leave to seek a judicial review of the refusal of planning permission for the project at Hightown Quarry.

Private waste management firm Indaver is also disputing the lawfulness of the decision taken by former Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.

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A High Court judge confirmed on Thursday (February 23) he is ready to hear the full challenge in April this year.

A computer-generated image of the proposed facility.A computer-generated image of the proposed facility.
A computer-generated image of the proposed facility.

It represents the latest stage in an ongoing battle over the controversial proposals for an incinerator at the location.

The £240m project was originally turned down in 2015 by the then Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan.

Arc21, set up on behalf of councils in Belfast, Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ards and North Down, Lisburn and Castlereagh, Mid and East Antrim, and Newry, Mourne and Down, then secured approval from the Planning Appeals Commission.

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Civil servants then agreed to give the plant the go ahead following a collapse in the Stormont Executive but the High Court subsequently ruled there was no power to approve the incinerator without a minister being in place.

In March last year Mrs Mallon refused a renewed planning application for a site that could thermally treat 300,000 tonnes of waste each year.

Citing the 5,000 objections to the proposals, she said the facility could result in an increased market for waste disposal and discourage recycling.

The lawfulness of that decision, maintained by the Department since Mrs Mallon left office, is under joint challenge from Arc21 and Indaver. They claim it went against a recommendation from officials to approve the project.

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Lawyers for the umbrella group and waste firm are also expected to argue that the former minister’s decision was irrational and in breach of planning permission.

In court on Thursday, Mr Justice Humphreys indicated that up to three days will be set aside to hear all arguments.