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Incinerator campaigners welcome victory but vow to keep battling against plans


Concern: Darren McCullins

Concern: Darren McCullins

Concern: Darren McCullins

Campaigners and residents welcomed yesterday's High Court ruling, vowing to keep fighting against plans for the waste incinerator.

The facility, which was proposed by waste management firm Arc21, received more than 4,000 letters of objection.

Campaign group NoARC21 - which was backed by a cross-party selection of politicians - voiced its relief after a judge blocked the project.

With tens of thousands of pounds spent on their campaign, NoARC21 chair Colin Buick said the hard-fought victory will benefit his community as they continue to oppose the incinerator.

"On behalf of all the community in Newtownabbey and greater Belfast, we're delighted," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "It's been a long time coming.

"We've got some success today and we're very buoyed that going forward, ARC21 will have to take on the over-4,000 objections that have been put in to date."

In 2015 the then Environment Minister Mark H Durkan had blocked the facility's introduction on Boghill Road due to potential risks to public health and house prices falling.

Civil servants have been making decisions in place of government ministers since Stormont's collapse last year. However, after an eight-month legal battle, Mrs Justice Keegan backed claims that a senior civil servant did not have legal power to give the green light for the waste disposal facility.

Mr Buick added: "We thought at the time that it was the wrong decision made by the civil servant. The politicians that helped us obviously agreed.

"We got financial backing and we went in with the backing of our community and fought a case in court that proved we were right.

"ARC21 and the Department for Infrastructure were wrong and it's up to them now concerning the implications for Northern Ireland.

"Our main concern is for the people of our area to get this incinerator stopped." Darren McCullins (26) lives around two miles from the proposed site. The Masters student echoed Mr Buick's thoughts.

"My family have lived in Mallusk for over 25 years, and we've had to put up with the growth of the industrial estate and the smell of the landfill site since moving to what was a pretty rural village at the time," he said.

"There was a very real prospect of the house price plummeting even further all because of an unelected civil servant. It's got to a point where residents just can't take any more.

"The community will keep fighting. The fact the judicial review was brought is in itself amazing, never mind overturning the permission."

Richard Gregory is the chairman of Mallusk Community Action Group which aims to make the area safer for families to live in. He is concerned with the financial cost of an incinerator.

"We're not at the end of the road I'm sure," he said. "There is no financial sense to any of this, and if we can't provide enough rubbish, it's going to be rubbish shipped in from outside.

"If it can't be shipped in from outside then it's the poor ratepayers that are going to have to subsidise it."

Politicians from across the spectrum supported NoARC21's battle to overturn the decision.

Belfast Telegraph