Company pulls plan for hazardous waste processing plant at Carlingford Lough
Plans for a facility to process hazardous liquids near one of Ireland's most environmentally sensitive coastal regions have been abandoned.
Waste company Re-Gen confirmed it had cancelled an application for a permit for Warrenpoint port on Carlingford Lough and said it did not want to cause further distress or concern.
Oyster farmers, environmentalists and politicians had raised fears over the proposal, with the harbour authority also warning that a hazardous waste facility was not part of its 35-year plan.
Joseph Doherty, managing director of Newry-based Re-Gen, said the company spoke to local representatives and assessed the port's blueprint before pulling the plan.
"We have seriously considered their views along with those of the wider community on both sides of the lough and, despite our confidence that the facility would not have had in fact any negative impact, we have concluded that we do not wish to cause them any further distress or concern," he said.
Re-Gen applied to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) for a licence for Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) in February.
There was no obligation to seek consent from the Environmental Protection Agency in the Republic despite the port overlooking the border.
Thousands of tonnes of oysters and mussels are harvested every year from the waters in Carlingford, regarded as one of the most pristine shellfish producing regions in Ireland.
Campaigners opposed to the hazardous waste facility also claimed the port site is too close to the Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) on the northern shore, it is 1km from a special area of conservation and the wider lough area also includes a marine conservation zone and a special protection area.
Re-Gen insisted that any processing, storage or transport of hazardous waste would not have had a detrimental impact on the environment, health and wellbeing of the community.
"As a company operating in the waste sector we are fully committed to applying the highest possible duty of care to our employees, the environment and the wider community," Mr Doherty said.
The No Toxic Lough group, which campaigned against the facility, said the worry of leaks or spills weighed heavily on people's minds.
"We recognise that a solution to manage hazardous waste that we produce in this country is badly needed but you simply cannot build such a facility in a highly populated residential area that is prone to high tide flooding and which has significant ecological importance," a spokeswoman said.