Belfast Telegraph

Residents voice opposition to Cloghan Point oil facility expansion

Cloghan Point near Whitehead
Cloghan Point near Whitehead

By Eimear McGovern

Residents living on the shores of Belfast Lough have hit out at plans to expand an oil facility.

NI Railways operator Translink also said it had concerns regarding railway safety and had requested further information from the developers.

LCC Group - one of Northern Ireland's biggest energy firms - has proposed developing Cloghan Point near Whitehead in a £20m project in a move it said would create jobs and deliver cheaper fuel.

The site was built in the 1970s to serve Ballylumford and Kilroot Power stations but in recent years, four large tanks have been used to store part of the Republic of Ireland's strategic reserve of diesel and gas oil, according to the BBC.

There has been little activity on the site in recent years and LCC Group wants to use the site to import and distribute petrol, diesel and kerosene after purchasing the site in 2017.

The company said it planned to accommodate larger oil tankers of up to a 120,000-tonne capacity, but the bid has attracted opposition locally.

Residents say it would mean a big increase in activity claiming 150 lorries a day using the site, something LCC Group has denied.

A spokesperson said: "“LCC are currently meeting with local political parties in order to create a better understanding of our aims and objectives in relation to this project. The political parties have articulated local concerns very clearly to our project team.

"There are a number of studies currently being conducted by the project team, these findings will be made public on completion which we expect to be in the second quarter of 2020.”

Andy Glenn, from the No to Cloghan Point Group, said although the site was in an industrialised location it was a quiet area. He said the redevelopment plan would mean major change.

"It's not the same as what's there at the moment," he said.

"The community are crying out for more information. We are working very hard behind the scenes to try and make sure this project won't go ahead."

Translink also voiced opposition to the project

"While there is no expectation to disrupt timetabled passenger services, Translink has raised serious concerns regarding the information currently provided in support of the planning application for the proposed redevelopment of Cloghan Point," a statement from the public transport provider said.

"This was due to a number of concerns affecting the ongoing safety of rail operations and the long-term development of the Larne Line.

"Further information has been requested to allow continued assessment and necessary reassurances and we are currently assessing additional environmental information recently submitted by the applicant."

Professor Geraint Ellis lives locally and also teaches sustainability, planning and energy at Queen's University.

He said Northern Ireland should be reducing its reliance on fossil fuels.

"It's the last thing we want. We want to be investing in renewables, energy efficiency, nothing more on fossil fuels. We know the outcome of where that's taking us."

Actor Ian McElhinney has also spoken out against the redevelopment in the past.

"What people don't realise is it affects the whole north shore and that's a sizeable sizeable number of people and frankly every public representative should be out there making noises about this and making sure the community knows what is proposed.

"It is totally unfair to people in the area," he said.

A statement from developers said LCC was "currently meeting with local political parties in order to create a better understanding of our aims and objectives in relation to this project".

It said it had listened to concerns from elected representatives and would release more detail on its plans next year.

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