Plans for new waste management infrastructure which will enable arc21, the umbrella waste body for 11 Councils in the East of Northern Ireland, to meet European landfill diversion targets and manage its waste more sustainably have been unveiled. The announcement has triggered a programme of extensive public consultation designed to explain the proposals in detail, answer questions and provide the public and other stakeholders with an opportunity to provide their feedback ahead of submission of a formal planning application in the autumn. The Project is subject to the successful conclusion of both public procurement and planning processes.
Representing a capital investment of £240 million, the plans, if approved, will see the Becon Consortium deliver a Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility alongside an Energy from Waste (EfW) plant located in the existing Hightown Quarry on the Boghill Road, near Mallusk. This type of waste infrastructure is commonly used across the rest of Europe and will form an integral part of Northern Ireland’s agreed waste management strategy. The project will complement existing arc21 waste, reduction, reuse and recycling programmes to maximise recycling levels and create a sustainable energy source from the remaining residual black bin waste.
The Becon Consortium, aims to develop the facilities on behalf of arc21 pending the completion of a competitive procurement process. The Consortium is backed by E.ON Energy from Waste, a leading European company with decades of experience in developing and operating similar EfW plants. It currently operates 19 plants in Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The proposed facilities will help arc21’s 11 Councils to not only meet their EU landfill reduction targets, therefore avoiding potential fines, but will also help increase overall recycling levels within the arc21 area by up to 10%. The project will also export 14MW electricity to the National Grid, enough to power more than 30,000 homes, contributing to Northern Ireland’s renewable energy targets, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to using landfill.
An independent economic assessment by Oxford Economics estimates the project will create or sustain approximately 340 permanent direct and indirect jobs when operational – contributing over £24 million Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Northern Ireland economy per annum. It will also create up to 455 direct construction jobs and support a significant number of additional jobs in the construction supply chain, generating an estimated £215 million GVA in the process. The project will also include a Visitor Centre which will showcase best practice in waste management and sustainability.
Following a careful site selection process, the long established Hightown Quarry was considered the best location for the new facilities as it is centrally located in the arc21 area, and has good connections to the primary road network as well as the national electricity grid. Importantly, this active industrial quarry site is of sufficient size and scale to absorb the scheme and lends itself well to visual screening and noise shielding.
Pictured at the Hightown Quarry are Ricky Burnett, Policy and Operations Director, arc21, and Ian Smith, Project Director, Becon Consortium.