At present, the six eastern councils in Northern Ireland send the equivalent of 15 million black bins of rubbish to landfill or overseas for incineration every year.
This take-make-waste model is no longer sustainable with our landfills reaching capacity and export markets becoming more expensive.
The arc21 project [involving the building of a waste-burning plant in south Antrim] gives the Executive the opportunity to transform our waste infrastructure and both the economic and environmental cases for approval are compelling.
After all, why should we export power generation and jobs to other nations? With landfill sites expected to reach capacity by 2030, we must accelerate our transition towards a circular economic model.
Arc21 has been through a torturous planning journey, having been recommended for approval on three separate occasions without a positive decision.
Not only does it meet a vital need in our strategic waste management future but it will deliver mass employment, increase recycling rates, and secure a private sector investment of over £240m into a local government owned asset.
This potential economic stimulus is not something to be ignored, especially as we emerge from the pandemic and all the damage it has caused.
The infrastructure minister should stop delaying and move quickly to make a determination on this project.
If she is serious about building back better and delivering modern and strategic infrastructure, which benefits our local economy and addresses the looming waste crisis, arc21 is an oven-ready solution.
Sammy Wilson, MP for East Antrim
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