Belfast Telegraph

Controversial incinerator planning approved in absence of minister

A controversial £240 million waste incinerator has been given planning approval by civil servants in the absence of any government minister.

More than 3,500 objections were submitted to the planning application for Hightown Quarry near Glengormley.

Residents opposed to the project were concerned it could increase traffic and damage property prices.

The venture was approved by the Department of Infrastructure, which has not had a minister since early this year due to the collapse of Stormont powersharing.

One former minister lambasted the decision and said he was angered.

The department's statement said: "In arriving at the final decision, the Department carefully considered and agreed with the independent report and recommendations.

"The Department considers it is in the public interest to make this decision, given the strategic importance of the project for the region, without further delay."

In 2015, then Environment Minister Mark H Durkan rejected the proposals.

On Wednesday he tweeted: "Disappointed and angered at the approval of Hightown incinerator.

"I listened to local people and refused it as SDLP/DoE minister."

After an appeal, the Planning Appeals Commission backed the bid and recommended that approval be given.

Following a reorganisation of departments at Stormont, the responsibility for planning permission passed from the Department for Environment to the Department for Infrastructure.

The incinerator is to be situated at Hightown Quarry on the Bogtown Road in Ballyutoag in County Antrim.

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