Local MLA Declan Kearney has said that Sinn Féin remains resolute in its opposition to the proposed Hightown Incinerator and has once again pledged his support for the people of the Hightown and Mallusk area in their campaign.
Speaking after leading a cross party and community delegation to meet with senior Department for Infrastructure officials, the South Antrim representative said:
“In May this year, a court ruling led to the Hightown Incinerator planning application going back to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) for consideration. Understandably, this news was met with shock and disbelief by the people of greater Hightown and Mallusk.
“Local residents have consistently voiced concerns about the serious repercussions which would flow from such a facility, including the negative consequences for community health and wellbeing, and the natural habitat and ecosystem of the surrounding countryside. Years later, they continue to live with the uncertainty of this incinerator emerging in the immediate vicinity of their homes and local amenities. The case has also been consistently made by the local campaign group No-ARC21 that there is no economic argument justifying this proposal as well as a very dubious business case.
“I said at the time of the most recent court decision that I would seek a meeting with senior DfI officials to pursue clarification on their position following this court ruling.
“I was therefore pleased to lead a cross-party and community delegation, which included representatives of No-ARC21 and all main political parties, to meet with senior officials at their offices in Clarence Court, Belfast.
“All political and community representatives conveyed to the Department the now heightened fears regarding the latest developments concerning the Hightown Incinerator proposal. We voiced our collective resolve to continue fully supporting the local residents’ opposition to this planning application.
“The delegation also highlighted the flawed economic case promoted by supporters of the proposed incinerator. The campaign representatives presented evidence that it would be counterproductive to waste management, environmental targets and value for money.
“We sought assurances that the application would be discontinued, and called for previous ministerial rulings to be upheld. I repeated my conviction that this proposal is not in the public interest.
“All political colleagues asserted that the Hightown Incinerator application cannot be viewed as a free-standing planning issue, given that the proposal involves a variety of cross-cutting factors, and should require input from other public agencies and government departments. As a result, I will now be requesting the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Infrastructure convenes a follow up meeting with our delegation, which includes all relevant stakeholders to discuss this matter with due regard to all its dimensions.
“I and my political colleagues remain resolute in our opposition to the proposed Hightown Incinerator and will continue to support local the No-ARC21 campaign, and the wider community of Hightown and Mallusk.”