Campaigners vow to fight Northern Ireland incinerator plan through courts
A campaign group is planning to launch a legal challenge against plans to build a large-scale waste incinerator in north Belfast.
There has been a long-running campaign by local residents who live near the site in Mallusk, Co Antrim, where plans to build the £240m incinerator were given the go-ahead yesterday.
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Around 20 people attended last night's committee meeting of the No Arc21 group to express their anger after the Department for Infrastructure said the incinerator can be built following a report by the Planning Appeals Commission.
Colin Buick, chairman of the campaign group, said it was "extremely disappointed" at the move.
"We are all, as a group, devastated," he said.
"We thought we fought a decent campaign against a multi-million pound-funded application.
"I am disgusted at the decision and also at how the news broke. The political fall-out has not helped us.
"We have fought against this project for many years and those living in the communities who will be affected by this fundamentally flawed proposal will be rightly disgusted at the decision.
"We are also extremely concerned that the decision has been taken without a minister in place, given the fact that all political parties have supported our campaign."
He told the group that it was now "day one" of its new campaign and that it would seek to launch a judicial review.
Committee member Charlie Thompson pointed out there were more than 4,000 objections to the incinerator plans.
"There were many objections with the thought that this was dead in the water - well this is very much not dead in the water," he said.
"We will also explore the option of a full judicial review, but there is significant cost behind this.
"The second option we have is checking the legality of a civil servant taking a decision to support this application when the Assembly is down.
"Previously, all the political parties stood in this room offering cross-party support for us, saying this will never happen. But this has happened.
"We are calling on our representatives to get together and provide the support to this area.
"People don't understand the serious health implications."
Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said his party's position was against incinerators.
Mr Buick, however, highlighted that the report stated former Sinn Fein Environment Minister Chris Hazzard took a neutral stance on the incinerator.
"Surely if Sinn Fein have a 'no incinerator' policy, why was he taking a non-stance," he put to Mr Kelly.
He told the committee that he had tried to contact the former minister yesterday.
"I find it extraordinary and I will find out what Chris has to say about it," he added.
Noreen McClelland, an SDLP councillor for the area, said: "A civil servant making decisions like this is so worrying - this is the first they have made in the absence of an Assembly."