Waste stench sees tourists flee from Limavady beauty spot
The Broad Road is a favourite stop for hill walkers, photographers and school pupils taking part in Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, with stunning views of sweeping hills and soft heathers.
Running through a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the road which connects Limavady and Coleraine is normally a journey to take in the scenery. But all that has been marred in recent months by the stench coming from a waste treatment plant.
It has driven home owners inside and kept tourists and visitors at bay, much to the consternation of Limavady’s councillors who last week sent a delegation to meet with Environment Minister Alex Attwood.
The North West Telegraph went to the site to see if the smell was as horrific as residents depicted — and discovered the most breathtaking thing about the area was indeed the odour emanating from the treatment works.
As we arrived on site with Councillor Jack Rankin, an Irish Waste lorry began to tip its load onto the ground to be processed. Within seconds, the smell had reached our vehicle and instinctively you had to cover your nose.
It had little impact, as the stink had already reached the back of our throats, making us gag. Lorry loads of waste have been transported here from Belfast since March 2010, when repair work started on incinerators at the Duncrue waste plant.
“Lethal is about the best way I can describe this smell,” said local resident, Robert Hall. “It catches you at the back of your throat and if you are outside, it clings to your clothes.
“The smell is not obvious every day but if it is dry and even a bit windy then it is just shocking, and these dry days are the very ones that you would want to go outside but you can't.
“It's not that long ago I was up there and saw a car with a European registration number pull up. The people got out with a picnic but within seconds they loaded the car and moved on. You would've known by their faces it was the smell. If this carries on next summer they will have killed the whole area, no-one will come.”
Once the waste has been treated with lime at Limavady it is available to local farmers to spread on their land. However, the potential dangers this poses is to be raised with Stormont.
Limavady Council agreed to send a letter detailing its concerns to Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill as a matter of urgency.
Mr Rankin is concerned that tourism will suffer unless the temporary licence granted for the plant is revoked.
He said: “A delegation from the council met with the minister last week but got little satisfaction, although [Environment Minister] Alex Attwood said he would be prepared to come and see for himself just how bad the smell can be.”
Irish Waste was awarded the contract by NI Water. It suggested that even when Belfast’s waste treatment site is operational, human waste may still be sent to Limavady. A spokeswoman for NI Water said: “The engineering complexity and emission standards involved in incineration necessitates the operator will have planned and unplanned dependancies on alternative disposal routes. NI Water’s operating contractor will consider all available disposal routes.”