A DECISION by the Department for Infrastructure to refuse the planning application for a controversial large waste treatment facility in North Belfast is to be challenged in the courts.
The application by Arc21 proposed a residual waste treatment facility that has the ability to thermally treat 300,000 tonnes per year of municipal waste on the site of the former Hightown Quarry on the Boghill Road.
It was refused by former Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon in March.
The application by Arc21 and Indaver, who together represent the Becon Consortium proposed a residual waste treatment facility that has the ability to thermally treat 300,000 tonnes per year of municipal waste on the site of the former Hightown Quarry on the Boghill Road.
This week, they revealed they now plan to seek a Judicial Review into the decision, claiming the former Minister's decision was contrary to the advice of her officials.
Jackie Keaney of the Becon Consortium said: "The minister's most senior advisors in the department alerted her to the very real risks of legal challenge, highlighting that such a challenge might be exceptionally difficult for the department to defend, as well as raising the associated costs and reputational risks of doing so.
"The minister chose to ignore this advice issuing her decision on the final day before the pre-election purdah period."
Campaign group, No-Arc21 Chairman Colin Buick expressed his frustration that Arc21 are seeking legal action.
"We are shocked and disgusted that Arc21 is seeking to squander more public money on this doomed project, by attempting to legally challenge a completely legitimate planning decision by a Stormont government minister,” he said.
“We have no doubt that millions of pounds of rate-payers money have already been wasted on this unwanted project.
"It should be remembered that this planning application was refused by a previous Environment Minister Mark Durkan, and successfully challenged in the courts by NoArc21.
“There is comprehensive and widespread political opposition to the project from all political parties in south Antrim.
‘‘It is hard to believe that in a time of rising inflation and pressure on household ratepayer incomes, without even asking for permission from its member councils, Arc21 has decided to launch this legal action which could cost £500,000 – money which Arc21 will need ratepayers to provide, via their councils.
“No-Arc21 is calling on all six constituent Arc21 councils, to withhold consent for the judicial review and to refuse to fund it.
“The refusal of planning permission by former DFI Minister Nichola Mallon, is a perfectly legitimate and democratically accountable decision. It must be allowed to stand.’’