Fears Hightown incinerator ruling could jeopardise other major projects

The North-South interconnector could be jeopardised by the court ruling
The North-South interconnector could be jeopardised by the court ruling

A number of key infrastructure projects, including the North-South electricity interconnector and the A5 western transport corridor, could be jeopardised by a court ruling on a major incinerator project, Naomi Long has said.

The Alliance leader was commenting after the High Court blocked planning permission for the new facility near Mallusk on Monday due to a lack of democratic accountability.

Mrs Long said she has written to Secretary of State Karen Bradley, urging her to ensure that talks can take place so that Assembly committees can sit to provide advice and scrutiny for the various Stormont departments.

Mrs Long believes the appointment of an independent facilitator to kick-start all-party talks would enable decisions on key issues to be taken.

Civil servants have been running Northern Ireland’s public services since the Stormont Assembly collapsed early in 2017.

Mrs Long said that although she welcomed the court ruling, “it raised a significant challenge to the lawfulness of decision-making by the civil service in the absence of devolved institutions, an alternative mechanism for democratic accountability or the restoration of direct rule.”

Meanwhile, the SDLP’s Daniel McCrossan has written to the head of the civil service seeking clarification around the A5 road project.

“The A5 project is hugely important for west Tyrone as well as the wider north west. It is absolutely imperative that there are no more delays in this critical infrastructure project after years of broken promises and non-delivery,” he said.

“The only solution to ensure the delivery of this project is for politicians to get back to work,” Mr McCrossan added.