Nature charity and locals fight landfill site plan
A nature charity and residents have joined forces to oppose plans for a landfill dump in one of Northern Ireland's most sensitive environmental areas.
The proposed waste operation would be located on the outskirts of Comber and close to the Strangford Lough shoreline.
The site, a disused quarry, lies around a mile from the Castle Espie centre run by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
Planning permission is currently being sought and objectors have voiced fears about possible environmental and traffic implications.
WWT director James Orr said water quality was a major issue for Castle Espie.
"The ground conditions are quite porous. We lie within the hydrological catchment for the site so we're very concerned."
A spokesperson for a residents' group fighting the application said local roads would be unsuitable for vehicles transporting waste to the dump.
"As part of the Ulster Way, the area is used extensively by walkers, cyclists and horse riders and I fear for everyone's safety if this becomes a haul route for heavy vehicles."
A spokesman for the Planning Service of the Department of the Environment (DoE) said the landfill application involved in filling the quarry with inert material and reinstating it as agricultural land.
"A total of 255 objections to the proposal have been received to date raising a number of issues including potential impact on the safety of road users and the well-being of the local environment and wildlife," he added.
"DoE has consulted with a number of public bodies in relation to the proposal and is currently awaiting their responses.
"The Department will fully consider all representations on the proposal prior to making a recommendation on how the application should be determined. "