Belfast Telegraph

Mallusk incinerator: Civil Service will not appeal planning ruling

The Northern Ireland Civil Service has confirmed it will not appeal a Supreme Court judgement preventing the development of the Mallusk incinerator.

Earlier this month the Department of Infrastructure failed to overturn a ruling that it had no legal power to approve the £240m waste incinerator without a minister in place.

Planning permission for the facility was originally approved by the department in 2017.

The Court of Appeal held that only the full Executive could authorise the proposed facilities on the outskirts of north Belfast because they were so significant, controversial and cut across area of responsibility.

The ruling cast major doubt on who has authority to take decisions in Northern Ireland normally taken by ministers.

On Monday morning, a DfI spokesperson said: “The Department has studied the Court of Appeal ruling on 6 July and will not appeal the judgement.”

Sinn Fein MLA Declan Kearney welcomed the decision.

“The Department of Infrastructure’s decision not to appeal the Court ruling to reject the Hightown Incinerator is the right thing to do," he said.

“This facility should never have been given the green-light in the first place after widespread opposition and concerns over the safety of residents.

“Any move by Department officials to proceed with this project would have run contrary to the Good Friday Agreement in the absence of an Executive. This position was vindicated by the Court.

“Key decisions such as this demonstrate again the importance of re-establishing the power-sharing institutions in a way that is consistent with the Good Friday Agreement.

“There is an onus on both governments to fulfil their responsibility as co-guarantors of that agreement, to deal with the outstanding equality and rights issues at the heart of the political crisis

"In addition, I am now calling on Arc21 to declare its intention to finally withdraw the incinerator proposal in order that this matter can be conclusively brought to an end.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: "The UK Government will continue to consider the implications of the court's judgement, following the decision by the NI Civil Service not to appeal.

"We are acutely aware of the challenging circumstances and we remain fully committed to ensuring good governance in the absence of an Executive. That's why we introduced the recent NI Budget Act to ensure stable finances and why the Secretary of State has committed to taking further action on urgent public appointments.

"The Secretary of State remains firm in her view that it is absolutely crucial that we secure the return of a functioning, devolved government in Northern Ireland.  This will ensure the Executive can get back to the business of governing and take the strategic decisions that affect the long-term future of Northern Ireland."

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