Published Tuesday, 12 March 2013
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Eleven councils including Belfast have given their backing to the £240m project, which has been billed as one of the largest of its kind in Northern Ireland.
More than 30,000 homes could be powered by the electricity produced by the incinerator, developers the Beacon Consortium said, and 300 jobs would be created.
It would include a treatment plant and a furnace to burn rubbish that cannot be recycled and could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
However the developers have yet to secure planning approval.
"This is a very exciting project which will see Northern Ireland catch up with the rest of Europe in ensuring we view waste as a valuable resource," said Ian Smith from Beacon.
"Not only will it address the European imperative to divert our waste from landfill, but this project will ensure we extract the maximum value from the remaining non-recyclable black bin waste to generate much-needed renewable and sustainable energy."
The plans went out for public consultation on Tuesday however it could take some four years to complete the project once approved.
Residents' concerns will be considered and environmental questions will be asked.
Declan Allison, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "We need to reduce the amount of waste we produce, and recycle what can be recycled.
"That means we need to eliminate unnecessary packaging, for example, and collect more recyclable materials from people's doorsteps.
"For energy from waste to be most efficient, the hot water generated during the incineration should be used. This site is too far from heavy users of heat and hot water, such as homes and offices, to make it efficient."
Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly says his party will oppose the plan.
"The plan to impose an incinerator in Newtownabbey will see Sinn Féin join the community and use all the political strength we brought to bear on previous campaigns against similar schemes," said the north Belfast MLA.
"The way to deal with waste is reuse, reduce and recycle. With the support of the residents, who are aware of the down-affects of this type of site, this battle can be won."