£6m waste treatment facility in Antrim is given go-ahead despite public health concerns

Planning permission has been granted for a £6m waste treatment facility in Antrim despite 223 objections.
The McQuillan facility in Antrim. Photo from GoogleThe McQuillan facility in Antrim. Photo from Google
The McQuillan facility in Antrim. Photo from Google

The application for change of use at an existing waste transfer building in Newpark Industrial Estate to a thermal recovery building was given the go-ahead at a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s planning committee this week.

Planning officer Alicia Leathem told the committee the process will generate electricity to power the plant at McQuillan Envirocare waste treatment.

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The report said: “The site is currently Northern Ireland’s primary hazardous waste transfer station for solid wastes with a chemical treatment facility for both hazard and non-hazardous waste.”

The report notes pharmaceutical waste comes from customers such as Almac Group and health trusts. NI Water and DuPont are also listed. It also indicated “feedstocks” for the proposed thermal recovery facility include pharmaceutical waste, oil sludge, paint/adhesives, rags/wipes, polymer waste, laboratory smalls/solid toxic solvents and various liquid solvents.

The officer indicated that statutory bodies have not raised any objections. However, she reported there has been “a large volume of objections” from other parties.

Ulster Unionist Councillor Leah Smyth told the meeting she met with the applicant McQuillan’s on site a few months ago.

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She said she has been contacted “numerous times” about the application. She also stated she is a resident of Newpark. Cllr Smyth said “What alarmed me the most is the lack of clarity about emissions and impact on local air quality.

“As a mother of two children with respiratory issues, I do not want it on their doorstep. It is far too close to a residential area. Residents are also concerned about noise. This incinerator is not wanted. I would urge you to please refuse the application.”

DUP Cllr Paul Dunlop expressed concerns the proposal may “endanger the health of the community”.

Cllr Dunlop went on to ask for more engagement between McQuillan’s and the local community.

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Permission was granted following a vote in which five councillors were in favour with one against and two abstentions.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Antrim and Newtownabbey Mayor Councillor Mark Cooper said: “I welcome this £6m green investment in our borough, the project aligns with the council’s commitment to sustainability by minimising environmental impact and optimising resource utilisation.”

Sinn Fein Cllr Henry Cushinan said: “As one of Northern Ireland’s leading waste management companies, it is great to see McQuillan Companies investing further in its Antrim facility, this forward-thinking initiative highlights its unwavering dedication to environmental stewardship and technological innovation.”