Ballynakelly residents ‘utterly disappointed’ after CAD plant approved at ‘shambles’ planning meeting

Ballynakelly resident Trevor Stratton points to the "Say No to the Biodigester Plant Here" sign. INTT5014-329
Ballynakelly resident Trevor Stratton points to the "Say No to the Biodigester Plant Here" sign. INTT5014-329
  • Residents brand council planning committee meeting ‘a shambles’
  • Say they will be taking legal advice on how to move forward
  • A spokesperson for Callan Renewables said they are ‘delighted’ with the approval

Ballynakelly residents said they feel ‘let down’ by councillors who voted to approve plans for a Central Anaerobic Digestion plant in their village.

A crowd of around 50 people from across the communities of Ballynakelly and Killyman packed out Magherafelt council chamber to hear the debate on a plant they said will cause them only “nuisance” - and to which they had submitted over 500 objection letters.

Eight councillors from Sinn Fein and the SDLP voted to allow the CAD plant at Tuesday night’s planning committee meeting, after a motion to overturn them failed.

Councillors Reid and Cuthbertson were excluded from the vote, while four UUP and DUP colleagues voted to pass a motion calling for the planning application to be refused.

Residents have said they intend to take legal advice, dubbing the meeting “a shambles” after some confusion over whether the motion against approving the plant negated the need for a vote on whether to allow planning permission.

It also emerged at the meeting that the site on which Callan Renewables now has permission to build has a “chequered history” with numerous enforcement cases opened for unauthorised activity between 2002 and now.

The most recent case was also to be discussed by councillors at Tuesday night’s meeting in “confidential business” - so as not to influence the outcome of the vote on whether to approve the plant according to Mid Ulster council’s head of planning Dr Chris Boomer.

A spokesperson for the resident said after the meeting that they were “bitterly disappointed” with the outcome.

“It was a real shambles in there,” he added.

“For local representatives to put outsiders before their local people is unbelievable really.

“We voted those people in and they have gone totally against what we wanted - they didn’t listen - We’re not finished yet and we will take a bit of legal advice on where we go from here.

“At times that chair didn’t seem to know how to control his meeting,” he added.

Speaking on behalf of Callan, Thomas Bell from Clyde Shanks said he was “absolutely delighted” with the result.

“Contentious applications are very emotive. It’s my view that a lot of the objections - you can understand where that would come from,” he said.

“We must remember there were a number of environmental assessments done on this and that all statutory consultees responded with no objection and more importantly this has come now to the council three times... so as you can imagine, we’re delighted that it has now been approved.”