Minister Poots Confirms NI Waste Infrastructure Gap
17 September 2021
arc21 has welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, that there is a clear need for new waste infrastructure in Northern Ireland.
The DAERA Minister has written to the Minister for Infrastructure regarding arc21’s proposals for modern waste facilities at Hightown Quarry, Mallusk, stating that: “there is a clear need at this time for providing planning approval for more waste infrastructure.” Mr. Poots highlighted that there is a current and future waste infrastructure gap in Northern Ireland which is leading to a reliance on exporting or landfilling our rubbish. The Minister advised that in 2020 Northern Ireland exported 125,000 tonnes of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) for incineration overseas whilst a further 451,000 tonnes of council waste was landfilled in 2019. The Minister concluded that: “I believe that neither this continued landfilling nor export of RDF are sustainable methods to address Northern Ireland’s future waste arisings.” The final decision on arc21’s planning application now lies with the Department for Infrastructure. arc21’s application has been in the planning system for over seven years and has been recommended for approval by three sets of professional planners, including the Planning Appeals Commission. Tim Walker, arc21’s CEO, said: “We are pleased that the DAERA Minister has confirmed what arc21 has been stating for many years – that Northern Ireland clearly needs new waste infrastructure. “Every year households within the arc21 region produce 15 million black bins worth of residual rubbish that cannot be recycled. Currently, this rubbish is sent to landfill, which produces methane as it breaks down, or we pay to export it overseas for others to benefit from in the form of energy and jobs. Neither of these options are sustainable, either environmentally or economically.” arc21 is hopeful that the confirmation of need from DAERA will bring a positive decision on its long-standing planning application a step closer. Mr Walker continued: “It was encouraging to see the Infrastructure Minister recently put forward a proposal for a Northern Ireland Climate Summit ahead of COP26, the UN’s Climate Change Conference, which is due to be held in Glasgow next month. The Infrastructure Minister has previously stated, “The climate crisis needs our immediate attention and urgent intervention… We need to act now.” “If we want to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Northern Ireland’s waste sector we need to develop new infrastructure in line with the rest of Europe. arc21’s proposed facilities will increase recycling by up to 10%, reduce GHG emissions by 57,500 tonnes compared to landfill, generate enough electricity to power 30,000 homes and provide financial certainty for councils. “These facilities will help address not just the climate crisis, but also a potential local waste crisis caused by inadequate infrastructure and indecision.”