Northern Ireland

Incinerator appeal to be fast-tracked through courts

An artist's impression of the proposed waste facility Image copyright Becon Consortium
Image caption An artist's impression of the proposed waste facility

The legal battle over plans for a controversial waste incinerator on the outskirts of Belfast is to be fast-tracked through the courts.

Last week, the High Court ruled against the decision by civil servants to grant planning permission, in the absence of a minister.

The Department for Infrastructure lodged an appeal and it can take months before such cases are heard.

But the appeal will be heard at the end of next month.

A spokesperson for the department said: "The notice of appeal was lodged on 21 May and the case has been listed for hearing on 25 June."

The lord chief justice's office confirmed the case had been fast-tracked.

"The appeal has been given an expedited hearing date of 25 June 2018," a spokesperson said.

"The appeal is also listed for mention on 18 June at 10am for the purpose of dealing with any applications for oral intervention and timetabling."

Wider repercussions?

Since the collapse of devolution at Stormont last year, it has been unclear what power civil servants have to take decisions.

The planning dispute over the incinerator near Mallusk was seen by many as a test case.

After the High Court ruling went against the Department for Infrastructure, there were fears the judgement could have wider repercussions.

In announcing its decision to take the case to the Court of Appeal, a spokesperson for the department said last week: "It is important to have clarity on the legal position in the continued absence of ministers.

"While the appeal process is underway, the department will not take any further decisions on regionally significant applications and continues to carefully consider the full implications of the judgment on other planning cases."

Plans for the £240m incinerator, which was proposed by waste management firm Arc21, received more than 4,000 letters of objection.

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