Mid Ulster planning committee defer Ballynakelly decision

Magherafelt Council
Magherafelt Council

Mid Ulster Council’s planning committee tonight deferred making a decision on a controversial commercial waste digestion plant at Ballynakelly village, near Coalisland, which has attracted 500 objections.

About 30 residents attended the meeting at Magherafelt to object to the application for Callan Renewables which has already received planning permission.

A planning officer told the meeting that it was still their opinion to approve the application with conditions including that the development commences within five years and the access to the site is improved.

But committee members decided that they wanted to find out more information about how waste digestion plants operated at first hand, and asked for arrangements to be made for a visit to a similar plant as well as to the Ballynakelly site.

DUP Councillor Clement Cuthbertson called on members to refuse the application, claiming a waste plant would change the character of Ballynakelly forever.

He said the plant would bring no benefit to the local area and expressed concerns on health and safety grounds, pointing out that the children’s play park was “only over the hedge from it.”

Ulster Unionist Party Councillor Kenneth Reid also called for the application to be refused.

He said people had to ask themselves “would they like this on their doorstep.”

Councillor Reid claimed lorries using the plant would “wreck the roads” and spillages could endanger the health of residents.

Ballynakelly Residents’ spokesperson Kenneth Montgomery also asked the committee to refuse the planning application

He highlighted the various concerns local people had about the impact the development would have on their quality of life.

But an agent for Callan Renewables stressed the application was fully compliant with all the planning policies and the developer was making a £3m investment in the Mid Ulster Council area which would regenerate renewable energy.

Sinn Fein Councillor Cathal Mallaghan suggested the committee “go out on a visit to one of these sites” to see for themselves what goes on before making an educated decision.

SDLP Councillor Sharon McAleer said it would also be of benefit to hear from an expert who could address any worries they might have about such developments.