Letters to the Editor

We can not be left behind in race for cleaner environment

An artist's impression of plans for an incinerator at Hightown Quarry, Mallusk

IN the article ‘DUP criticised over arc21 waste incinerator U-turn’ (March 26), Mr Steve Aiken MLA raised issues about arc21’s proposals to develop modern waste infrastructure at Hightown Quarry, particularly the potential impact on the environment and recycling. 

I would like to draw your attention to some facts about this proposed development, which has been designed specifically to deliver the statutory duties of the councils that make up arc21 to increase recycling and deal with the remaining rubbish. Presently, this is landfilled in sites in the Lisburn and Belfast Hills, which are filling up fast, or exported for incineration – creating jobs and energy overseas.

The proposals of arc21 include one of the largest recycling facilities in Ireland and the first local Energy from Waste (EfW) plant that can handle a wide range of processed
and unprocessed rubbish that can’t be recycled. 

Over the past few years the Hightown Quarry proposals, which are in line with what happens to waste elsewhere in Britain and Ireland, have been recommended for approval by three sets of professional planners, including the Planning Appeals Commission.

Regarding the environment, the environment minister recently confirmed that landfilling is the primary source of greenhouse gases in the waste sector. In a written answer, the minister detailed that: “Over 90 per cent of the emissions from waste are in the form of methane, of which 75 per cent comes from the breaking down of waste anaerobically in landfill.” 

The UK Committee on Climate Change has also recommended a ban on landfilling biodegradable waste by 2025 and a 10 per cent cap on landfill. The facilities proposed by arc21 will divert waste from landfill and – in comparison – reduce greenhouse gas emissions annually by 57,000 tonnes. These facilities will also help address our over-reliance on exporting waste thousands of miles around the world, a practice that is not environmentally (and unlikely to prove economically) sustainable. 

The recycling facilities proposed by arc21 will boost council recycling rates by five per cent to 10 per cent, recovering recyclable material accidentally placed in black bins, and use the ash from the EfW to make building products for the local construction sector.

The article also suggested that there would be “open-ended costs” for ratepayers. This is simply not the case. 

Our existing solution of relying on international waste markets and a diminishing number of landfill sites exposes ratepayers to increased financial risk and far greater operational uncertainty (not to mention significantly undermining our reputation as a green and pleasant land). It also means that we are not self-sufficient in dealing with our waste and will be left behind in terms of infrastructure and securing new opportunities for green growth, such as around new clean fuels.

Our proposals (which allow councils to share revenue generated by the facilities) will be subject to councils approving a business case should planning permission be secured. If the project does not represent value for money, arc21 will not recommend it.

Until we make the transition to a zero-waste society, modern waste facilities such as those proposed at Hightown Quarry will play an essential role in properly managing the 15 million black bins’ worth of rubbish we in the arc21 region produce annually. 

Tim Walker
Chief executive (acting)



No vaccine for sectarianism

IF Prince Philip had died of his recent illness would restrictions have been ignored or relaxed to facilitate a state funeral and public expression of respect?

Would Northern Ireland’s  unionist politicians insist that whatever the restrictions they be enforced by the police?

If they were not enforced, would Arlene Foster, the DUP and other unionists demand the resignation of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the UK prime minister?

If another prominent republican dies during lockdown would there be another Sinn Féin showcase funeral?

In the case of last year’s republican funeral, the PSNI had the choice of risking a Hong Kong or Myanmar-style confrontation or of identifying individuals and recommending that they be prosecuted. They chose the latter course, which seems reasonable and civilised, and they should not be faulted for that.  

The PPS’s opinion that there was no reasonable chance of securing convictions is not an indictment of the PSNI. It is an indictment of the legal system, a possibly confused law, the political system, the political situation, and of whatever political pressures that might have been put on the PPS and the PSNI.

Do the people of Northern Ireland have any confidence in Arlene Foster, Michelle O’Neill, the DUP and SF?

Those are the ones who should consider their positions, resign, or be judged by the people at the next election.

Do enough people eligible to vote have the vision, the will, the integrity, the courage and the determination to eradicate the orange and green viruses that infect, debilitate and suffocate the people of Northern Ireland? Neither of those viruses would exist without the other. They thrive on each other. There is no vaccine or herd immunity against one or the other.  There can be no new normality until both have been eradicated. NI style ‘normality’ is not an option.

Dennis Golden




Communities must be mixed too not just our schools

SOME people think integrated education is a good idea. I see it here in Dungannon where we have such schools, yet children go back to their own areas and are not mixing. What we want is integrated housing in areas where Catholics, Protestants and others can live and bring up their families together. They can play and grow up in a safe way together. This is the only way that children and parents get to know and trust each other.

P Daly
Co Tyrone

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