Lough Neagh incinerator campaigners urge caution

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Protestors opposed to a chicken waste incinerator being built on the shores of Lough Neagh have called on the Stormont Executive not to award grant money to the project until a legal challenge over planning permission ends.

Chairman of the Campaign Against Lough Neagh Incinerator group (CALNI), Ray Clarke, said the proposed Moy Park incinerator would probably need £30m in grant aid from the Executive's industrial development agency, Invest NI.

Rose Energy plans to build the £100m biomass burner near Glenavy, County Antrim.

It would use poultry litter and meat and bone meal as fuel.

The company says it would generate one third of Northern Ireland's target for green energy and would provide a significant economic boost for the local area.

'Unfettered'

Solicitors for CALNI have told Invest NI that if it permitted the release of public funding for the incinerator while the planning permission was being legally challenged, it could be subject to a judicial review.

"CALNI is therefore putting Invest NI on notice that it should not release any public funding whilst the planning permission for the incinerator is the subject of a legal challenge," MrClarke said.

"No bank or lending institution would dare release funding for a similar private sector project without unfettered planning permission."

An Invest NI spokesman said it had not committed or offered any money to the project.

"The proposal is being evaluated; once the evaluation is completed that will determine if, and to what extent, an offer of financial support would be made," he said.

The proposed incinerator site lies off the Ballyvannon Road near Glenavy in the green belt.

It lies within an Area of High Scenic Value.

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The CALNI group said it is also adjacent to a European Special Protected Area of Special Scientific Interest and protected wetland.

Moy Park Chicken, which recently took over O'Kane Poultry, is the majority shareholder in the company Rose Energy who have been given planning permission to build the incinerator.

When Environment Minister Edwin Poots announced planning approval for the incinerator last month, he said it would create up to 400 construction jobs and 30 permanent positions.

The incinerator plans have long been opposed by many of the residents in the area beside Lough Neagh.

Some 7,000 people have objected to the project.

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