The Department of the Environment has said it will be not be liable for any health and safety problems emerging from the installation of a major new digestion plant in Coalisland.
Residents have lodged hundreds of objections to the £3m plant at Ballynakelly which was given planning approval by the Mid Ulster District Council.
Under the plan a 500KW digestion plant will take up to 10,950 tonnes of silage, and 1,450 tonnes of slurry would be used each year to create gas which is then used to produce power.
DUP MLA Maurice Morrow asked the Minister of the Environment Mark H Durkan to detail what liability his department had if residents’ worst health and safety fears were realised.
“It will be for Mid Ulster Council to be satisfied that development work is carried out in accordance with the approved development”, said the minister. “The granting of planning permission does not negate the necessity to meet all other relevant statutory obligations. I am satisfied that as the council is the decision taker, and subject to compliance with all relevant legislation, liability does not rest with my Department.”
Lord Morrow said he was disappointed and perturbed by the minister’s response.
“He has effectively permitted his own policy on CAD’s to be abused and has chosen to ignore the voices of residents who will be detrimentally impacted upon”, he said.
“Moreover, by the Minister‘s abdication of responsibility he is allowing The Planning Service to operate with impunity and withoutaccountability. That could have serious repercussions not just in this instance but in many others. The Minister is permitting a government agency to make decisions against policy and without fear of challenge. That is entirely unacceptable.”