Planners pass unwanted waste plant for Ballynakelly

Cllrs Clement Cuthbertson, DUP and Malachy Quinn, SDLP with Ballynakelly residents
Cllrs Clement Cuthbertson, DUP and Malachy Quinn, SDLP with Ballynakelly residents

Despite concerns that resulted in the receipt of 253 letters of opposition, plans for an anaerobic digestion plant in Ballynakelly have been given the green light by planners.

But village residents, still very much opposed to the move, vowed at a public meeting on Friday night that they will continue to fight the decision - which, it is believed, will be considered by Dungannon councillors on February 9.

The request to build a 500kw CAD plant on land adjacent to homes and overlooking a play park in Ballynakelly was first sought by the newly formed Callan Renewables on July 3, 2014.

And just six months later - on January 22 - the appointed case officer penned a report suggesting it should go ahead, despite acknowledging that “a large number of objections” were received.

The officer said: “It is not felt that the proposal will have a detrimental impact on human health or the environment.”

But that report, residents and councillors at Friday’s meeting suggested, did not go far enough to explain why the plant was approved by Department of the Environment (DOE), or deal with any of the concerns raised in the letters of opposition.

Lord Morrow, who is supporting residents in their call to scrap the plans has also questioned how the proposed plan fits with DOE’s own guidance on such plants.

“For planners to recommend the approval of this most contentious planning application goes completely against DOE’s guidelines,” he said.

“I tabled a written question to the Minister on this very issue and the answer clearly states that CAD plants are expected to be located at, or as close as possible to, the source of the resource needed.

“I will not allow the Planning Service to ignore the local residents of Ballynakelly - their voices must be heard. The detrimental impact on their environment cannot be underestimated.”

A DOE spokesman said: “The department has considered the application including the objections and other representations received before it formed its opinion to approve.

“The application has not been approved at this stage as the department has a statutory duty to consult with the council before it issues any decision.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the residents said: “The residents still don’t want it - they would be very disappointed.

“There’s opposition coming from a mile radius and there’s not one that I’m aware of, that would be in favour of it,” he added.