Planning committee to visit Belfast biogas plant site ahead of final decision

An aerial view of Belfast Harbour's film studios and the proposed site of the new biogas plant.
Ryan McAleer

PLANNING approval for a controversial anaerobic digestion plant at Giant’s Park in north Belfast has been deferred to allow members of the city’s planning committee to visit the site.

Energia’s £40 million biogas development has already secured the backing of planning officers despite the serious concerns of Belfast Harbour and the company behind a £170m development plan on the same site.

The Irish News revealed on Tuesday that Belfast Harbour wrote to Belfast City Council’s planning department, describing the plant as “incompatible” with its own £45m plans to quadruple the size of its existing film studios next door.

The anaerobic digestion facility is expected to take 20 months to construct. It's designed to turn organic waste into methane gas, which is in turn, burned to generate electricity.

Belfast Harbour recently secured approval for a massive expansion of its film studios at Giant’s Park. Harbour commissioners said it could facilitate up to 1,000 new creative industry jobs.

In a letter to the council, it described the erection of the anaerobic digestion plant on an adjacent site as “incompatible with the existing film studios and may have the potential to detrimentally impact the operations of the existing film studios complex”.

Giants Park Belfast Limited (GPBL), the company selected by Belfast City Council to deliver a £170m leisure-led development on 250 acres of Giant’s Park, has also warned that it could put the planned investment at risk.

A report presented at Tuesday’s meeting of Belfast City Council’s planning committee recommended that the project be granted approval. But the decision was deferred, with members of the committee deciding that a visit to the site should take place ahead of a final decision.

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