Belfast City Council planning committee to make decision on £40m biogas plant

Belfast Habour's film studios at Giants Park on the North Foreshore of Belfast Lough. Picture by Mal McCann.
Ryan McAleer

BELFAST City Council’s planning committee will decide on Tuesday evening whether a £40 million biogas plant can be built next door to the focal point for the city’s burgeoning film industry.

Council officials have already recommended approval for Energia’s £40 million anaerobic digestion plant at Giant’s Park, on the North Foreshore next to Belfast Harbour’s film studios.

Formerly known as Viridian, the parent owner of Power NI’s plant is designed to turn organic waste into methane gas, which is in turn, burned to generate electricity.

But Belfast Harbour has described it as “incompatible” with its studios next door.

Harbour commissioners are in the process of a £45m plan to quadruple the size of the studios.

Recent clients include the production for Viking saga The Northman, starring Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard.

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, is also strongly opposed. It has warned the anaerobic digestion facility could put the planned investment at risk.

It has yet to submit a formal planning application, but the company said it has already spent £400,000.

A decision on the biogas plant was deferred by the planning committee in August after a late submission by a legal firm on behalf of GPBL. Following the deferral, councillors also decided to visit the site in September.

The proposal is back on the agenda for the first meeting of the committee in 2021, with officials ultimately make the same recommendation to approve.

The latest report includes Energia’s own legal response to the issues raised by GBPL.

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