RESIDENTS affected by the odour associated with the Mullaghglass landfill site say that they have been treated with “complete disdain” following a decision by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council to extend their domestic waste contract with the site.
The site was due to cease accepting domestic waste in January 2022, ahead of its closure but this paper understands that a decision taken by Lisburn Council will see the landfill continue to accept domestic waste until at least October 2022. Responding to the decision, local Councillor Danny Baker said it could now be 2023 before the issue is resolved.
“It is not a case that the problems associated with Mullaghlgass haven’t been well documented. This decision by Lisburn and Castlereagh Council is a slap in the face for residents," he said.
“It has taken years of campaigning just for the NIEA (Northern Ireland Environment Agency) to admit that there was a problem with the landfill.
“After every meeting that we have had, every site visit and every complaint from a resident, we have been told one thing and it didn’t stack up or take away the problem,” he said.
Cllr Baker added that the odour from Mullaghglass has been persistent and is well documented.
“There is legal action being taken by Belfast City Council and Lisburn are well aware of the problems that we are facing.
“It felt like we were coming to a natural end when I met with Alpha Resource Management alongside Paul Maskey, Órlaithí Flynn and Gary McCleave during the summer. The consensus was that the sites household operation would be coming to an end in January.
“While they didn’t admit that they were the source of the problems, they did say that they were filling up with household waste and we could expect more of an odour from it but that would be coming to an end in January.
“We were told that from January the remainder of the site would be filled in with the likes of rubble, sand and concrete and that the remedial work would continue.
“An extension that will see household waste arriving at the site until October will bring us into 2023.
“I have to ask if we can trust that this will be the end of it? They have moved the goalposts on us and it is deeply frustrating.”
Cllr Baker expressed his frustration at the decision and called for a consistent approach to the issue from other parties.
“I am also frustrated that political parties who sit on Belfast City Council are well aware of the issues that we  are facing. They supported the legal action and yet it is the same political parties who have voted to extend that contract in Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.
“It wouldn’t happen in my own party and I don’t think it is good enough to say that a party votes one way in Belfast and another in Lisburn. We need to see a consistent approach and I don’t think ignorance cuts it on this issue.”
Local resident, Mairead Connolly from the Shut Down Mullaghglass Landfill campaign said that there has been a breakdown in communication between the authorities and residents.
“We wouldn’t have been aware of this outcome if it hadn’t been for the media,” she said. “It is that sort of breakdown in communication between these authorities and the residents affected. We have been treated with complete disdain.
“Residents in North Lisburn have been protesting and asking for this site to be shut down. Their wishes have been completely ignored by those who they voted in to represent them.
“Lisburn Council won’t communicate with Belfast residents because we are in a different council area but the site lies within their boundaries.
“We had a leak to the media before this vote was taken which said that if the extension wasn’t agreed then Lisburn residents could be facing an increase in their rates. To me that was to try and play residents against each other.
“There are people in Lisburn who aren’t impacted by this odour and then we have residents in Lisburn North who are living with this every day.
“I know that there are councillors in Lisburn who do recognise the impact that this is having but it feels like we are getting nowhere with the council as a whole.”
A spokesperson for the site operator, Alpha Resource Management said that they would not be commenting on the situation while Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council did not reply to our requests for comment.