DUP divided on controversial £240m waste burning plant

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldon said yesterday that his party will not be taking a formal position on a controversial £240m waste incinerator at Mallusk - five months after all eight MPs including himself - reportedly supported the plans.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 6:30 am
An artist's impression of the proposed £240m Arc21 incinerator near Mallusk.

Arc21 is a local government waste management body planning a new £240m waste incinerator centre near Mallusk.

The waste management body for six NI councils, wants to take waste collected by its councils to the former quarry site near Mallusk.

The controversial development has had a seven-year journey, much of it in the courts. Arc21 says that the incinerator could generate electricity for 30,000 homes.

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In March it was widely reported that all eight DUP MPs had written to Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon in support of the proposal.

However two months later ten MPs - from Sinn Fein, Alliance and the SDLP - wrote to the minister opposing the plans, citing 5000 local objections and claiming that most local elected representatives opposed it.

Yesterday local campaign group ‘NoArc21’ issued a statement saying that after a meeting with a DUP delegation including party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Paul Girvan MP and Pamela Cameron MLA, they welcomed a statement from Mr Donaldson that the DUP does not now support the project.

When asked to clarify the situation, Sir Jeffrey did not confirm or deny whether this was accurate.

Instead he provided a copy of the email he sent to minister Mallon, which clarified that his party has never taken a collective position on the plans - and stating that elected members across the party are “at liberty to express their view on the planning application on behalf of the communities that they represent”. He told the News Letter he had nothing further to add to this.

South Antrim DUP MLA Trevor Clarke and east Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson have both publicly supported the plans this year.

In June, Tim Walker, acting CEO of arc21 said: “The reality is that we produce far too much rubbish that can’t be recycled, and drastically reducing that will take years to achieve. In the meantime, we need a reliable, affordable solution that deals with our incessant, daily dumping of rubbish.”

But Alliance MP Stephen Farry, who opposes the incinerator, rejected the comment. He said an urgent review of current waste management structures in NI was needed before decisions could be made about the future of the Arc21 proposals.