Campaigners opposed to the building of a gasification plant on the outskirts of Derry say they feel vindicated by a decision to bin the controversial £500million project.
Paul Hughes of Enagh Youth Forum, part of the wider Zero Waste North West lobby, welcomed the move to scrap the plans for the plant which would have been built at a site at Strathfoyle.
On Wednesday the the North West Regional Waste Management Group (NWRWMG), established to manage the project and which represents seven North West councils including Derry’s local authority - said the plans have been scrapped because of “question marks over the potential for successful delivery of the project in accordance with the appointment business case and the original final tender submission.”
NWRWMG Joint Committee said it is “very disappointed that it has had to make this recommendation, but has done so in the interests of all its stakeholders, including ratepayers and Councils.”
The £500million ‘super incinerator’ project had been described as one of the largest and most complicated public procurement exercises ever undertaken in Northern Ireland. It would have processed more than 150 million tonnes of waste daily and employed around 40 full time staff.
Campaigners opposed to the plans voiced concerns around the impact to human health and the environment.
Mr Hughes said those who campaigned against the gasification plant feel “vindicated by the news.”
“We welcome this move and encourage Environment Minister Mark Durkan and all political parties to to work with community groups and organisations such as Zero Waste North West to come up with alternatives, such as community recycling projects.”
Mr Durkan yesterday called the moves to scrap the plans the “correct decision”
“I believe that the NWRWMG has had to bow to circumstances totally outside its control.
“The Joint Committee’s decision has been taken against a background in which, as we all know, waste management in the North requires major reform. For my part, I am committed to seeing that reform delivered, in the best interests of the environment, the economy and the people of Northern Ireland.”
Derry Sinn Féin councillor Bridget Meehan said there is now an opportunity “ to stop and examine the wider array of environmentally and socially sound waste management options that are available such as Zero Waste.”
“If we begin seeing waste as a resource, it has the potential to become a major economic driver that can create new jobs, new products and greener forms of energy and fuel. More importantly, treating waste as a resource will also be our way of protecting our precious resources and our environment for ourselves and future generations,” she said.
The NWRWMG decision will now go before the seven local authorities involved for approval.