Hightown incinerator plans rejected amid residents' concerns and recycling fears
Residents' concerns and a feared impact on recycling rates influenced the decision to turn down plans for a controversial waste incinerator on the outskirts of Belfast, Stormont's Environment minister has said.
Mark H Durkan has refused an application for the £240 million facility on the old Hightown quarry site near Newtownabbey.
The Arc21 project would have seen waste from six super council areas in the east of Northern Ireland disposed of on site.
While the plant would have sustained around 300 jobs, there were intense objections from residents living nearby.
Mr Durkan's announcement has been welcomed across the political spectrum.
"I consider this development for a Residual Waste Treatment Facility in the former Hightown Quarry of Boghill Road should be refused," he said.
"I have carefully considered all the information before me. I have listened to the concerns of local people and their public representatives. To date there have been 3,526 objections and one petition of objection with 836 signatures.
"I am committed to a policy of zero waste and have worked hard with councils to increase recycling rates. I want this to continue. This development could result in an increased market for waste disposal and to maintain a facility such as this, in addition to the other approved waste facilities, could discourage recycling.
"In that context I do not consider there to be any need for this proposal."