Public Consultation Announced for State-of- the- Art Waste Facilities Designed to Boost Recycling and Produce Energy
Plans for new waste management infrastructure which will enable arc21, the umbrella waste body for 11 Councils in the East of Northern Ireland, to meet European landfill diversion targets and manage its waste more sustainably were unveiled today.
The announcement has triggered a programme of extensive public consultation designed to explain the proposals in detail, answer questions and provide the public and other stakeholders with an opportunity to provide their feedback ahead of submission of a formal planning application in the autumn.The Project is subject to the successful conclusion of both public procurement and planning processes.
Representing a capital investment of £240m, the plans, if approved, will see the Becon Consortium deliver a Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility alongside an Energy from Waste (EfW) plant located in the existing Hightown Quarry on the Boghill Road, near Mallusk. This type of waste infrastructure is commonly used across the rest of Europe and will form an integral part of Northern Ireland’s agreed waste management strategy. The project will complement existing arc21 waste, reduction, reuse and recycling programmes to maximise recycling levels and create a sustainable energy source from the remaining residual black bin waste.
The Becon Consortium, aims to develop the facilities on behalf of arc21 pending the completion of a competitive procurement process. The Consortium is backed by E.ON Energy from Waste AG, a leading European company with decades of experience in developing and operating similar EfW plants. It currently operates 19 plants in Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The proposed facilities will help arc21’s 11 Councils to not only meet their EU landfill reduction targets, therefore avoiding potential fines, but will also help increase overall recycling levels within the arc21 area by up to 10%. The project will also export 14MW electricity to the National Grid, enough to power more than 30,000 homes, contributing to Northern Ireland’s renewable energy targets, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to using landfill.
An independent economic assessment by Oxford Economics estimates the project will create or sustain approximately 340 permanent direct and indirect jobs when operational – contributing over £24m Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Northern Ireland economy per annum. It will also create up to 455 direct construction jobs and support a significant number of additional jobs in the construction supply chain, generating an estimated £215m GVA in the process. The project will also include a Visitor Centre which will showcase best practice in waste management and sustainability.
Following a careful site selection process, the long established Hightown Quarry was considered the best location for the new facilities as it is centrally located in the arc21 area, and has good connections to the primary road network as well as the national electricity grid. Importantly, this active industrial quarry site is of sufficient size and scale to absorb the scheme and lends itself well to visual screening and noise shielding.
Ricky Burnett, Policy and Operations Director, arc21 said; “The need to ensure we meet targets and avoid potentially heavy fines has been well documented. It is important to build on the good progress we have made over the last decade in utilising waste as a resource. We must continue to strive towards improving our recycling rates and minimising the amount of material sent to landfill.
Providing infrastructure to treat residual waste within our area represents the preferred option to meeting the challenges ahead. The proposals from the Becon Consortium, being unveiled today, are in response to our ongoing procurement to provide this infrastructure. They contain a mix of technologies and facilities which satisfies our requirements and is at a site which is well located for a development of this nature. It will significantly reduce our dependency on landfill and contribute to improving the security and diversity of energy production in Northern Ireland.
The consultation offers an opportunity for the public to engage through a variety of means and people are encouraged to offer comments to Becon on the proposals.”
Describing the project, Ian Smith, Project Director, Becon Consortium said; “This is a very exciting project which will see Northern Ireland catch up with the rest of Europe in ensuring we view waste as a valuable resource. Not only will it address the European imperative to divert our waste from landfill, but this project will ensure we extract the maximum value from the remaining non-recyclable black bin waste to generate much needed renewable and sustainable energy. We believe we are proposing the best available technology solution in the most suitable location to manage arc21’s waste in a more environmentally responsible and sustainable way. In doing so, we will maximise the value from waste using proven technology and processes that will be regulated by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in compliance with strict EU permits.
“As this project will introduce this type of technology to Northern Ireland for the first time, we are expecting a number of questions and issues to be raised. However, with more than 20 years’ experience of developing and operating similar facilities across Europe, we are confident that we will be able to explain our proposals and the many benefits they bring.
“That is why we are keen to undertake a comprehensive consultation programme prior to submitting a formal planning application. In the coming weeks we will use a number of different communication channels to inform people about our proposals, answer their questions and listen to their views. We will then take these views into account when preparing our planning application.”
Public consultation will include a project website www.becon.co.uk , the distribution of an introductory brochure to approximately 30,000 homes and businesses in the vicinity of the site and a number of planned community drop-in sessions within Newtownabbey, Antrim and Belfast City Council areas. Ongoing communication and community engagement will be carried out in the weeks and months ahead and detailed information will be made available on the website.
It is anticipated that the plants will be constructed and in full operation within four years of securing the necessary planning and permitting consents, and a successful conclusion of arc21’s procurement process.
For further information please contact:
Becon Consortium Morrow Communications Tel: 028 90 393837
Arc21 Stakeholder Communications Tel: 028 9033 9949 Jonathan King
Notes to Editor
• New recycling targets for NI of 60% for household recycling by 2020 have been proposed and are under consideration by the Minister.
• European targets require the level of biodegradable waste sent to landfill in 2020 to be no more than 35% of 1995 levels.
• Renewable Energy Targets as outlined in the Strategic Energy Framework (SEF) sets an ambitious NI target to produce 40% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
• The current Executive has, in its Programme for Government (2011-15), set a new, more ambitious, target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 35% on 1990 levels by 2025.