Published Friday, 21 December 2012
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Rose Energy Limited submitted a planning application for a Biomass Fuelled Power Plant at Glenavy Co Antrim four years ago.
The multi-million pound plant would have been fuelled by poultry bedding, meat and bone meal and was designed generate approximately 30MW of electricity as an output of the incineration process.
A Water Abstraction facility and associated pipeline was also proposed which would have pumped 160 cubic metres of water per hour from Lough Neagh. The waste water would then be treated, cooled and pumped into the Glenavy River.
The Department of Environment received over 13'000 representations over the planning permission -around 6,400 in support and 6,800 objections.
Minister Attwood said: "I have carefully interrogated the many issues surrounding this complex planning application. However, I have decided that on balance the environmental and other impacts outweigh the economic arguments.
"I fully accept that the poultry industry is of great importance to the local economy and there is a need to find alternative and sustainable methods of the disposal of waste from the industry.
"I have met with the Agri-food industry - I will work with the industry to take forward developments and job prospects."
The Minister said that a facility of this scale should not be located in a sensitive rural location on the shores of Lough Neagh.
"I am also concerned by the negative impact on the amenity of surrounding dwellings and the wider community as well as a general increase of heavy traffic on rural roads. It is also contrary to current rural planning policy and has impacts on other businesses and industry."
The minister insisted that the project, had permission been granted, would not have helped Northern Ireland meet its EU commitments on Nitrates Action.
"This is a view shared by senior figures in the agricultural and economic development sectors who have written to me to make this point and to recommend intensive efforts to find alternative solutions."
The Minister concluded: "This application has been in the system since 2008. As with all major planning applications I am determined to clear the backlog after careful consideration of the merits of each case in order to bring certainty to all involved."
The decision received a mixed reaction from politicians.
Sinn Féin MLA for South Antrim Mitchel McLaughlin has welcomed the decision.
"This is an area of outstanding natural beauty and there are also serious concerns regarding the environmental impact that this plant would have had on the lough basin."
"I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the CALNI group who worked tirelessly to oppose these plans and raise awareness of the issue."
TUV leader Jim Allister has hit out at the decision.
"This is a savage blow to the agricultural sector which suggests that the Department is utterly out of touch with the needs of the poultry industry and the threats posed by noncompliance with EU requirements.
"With no realistic alternative available for litter disposal the Minister has put the sector in an impossible position."
He added: "Successive ministers have dragged their heels on this application and now finally Mr Attwood has kicked the poultry sector in the face."