RESIDENTS from the Hillsborough Old Road area near where an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant has been proposed say they are concerned about the effect it could have on the neighbouring community.

This follows plans, revealed by the Star last month, by Lisburn transport firm McCulla which is investing over £3million in a new 500 Kilowatt anaerobic digestion plant at its base in Blaris Industrial Estate.

Several people living nearby are worried what the implications for people living in the area will be.

One lady who lives in the Ryanscourt development said: “I am concerned about the effect it could have on the neighbouring community in terms of noise, smell and volume of traffic on the Hillsborough Old Road.

“These digesters are usually built in rural areas so this site has various problems attached to it which must be addressed by the planners.”

However, the planning consultant advising on the major scheme said the significant renewable energy investment will boost the competitiveness of the company and markedly reduce its carbon footprint.

When news of the application was first announced Thomas Bell of planning consultancy Clyde Shanks said that the project promises to provide a boost to the local economy and to the agricultural sector in the wider Lisburn area.

“The site’s industrial context, its central location for drawing feedstock, and its location adjacent to a strategic arterial route, the M1, lends itself very well to anaerobic digestion from a planning policy perspective, and it is hoped that planning permission will be secured by April 2013,” he pointed out.

“The scheme promises many benefits; not only by enhancing the competitiveness and sustainability of a major local employer, but also by providing jobs in the construction of the plant and a supply of bio-fertiliser for local farmers,” he added.

The planning application for the project was submitted in December. McCulla’s Managing Director Ashley McCulla, said that the investment is an important one for the company.

The anaerobic process produces renewable energy via a combined heat and power plant similar to that at AFBI (The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute) plant in Hillsborough, to power the McCulla complex, with surplus energy being sold back into the grid. The by-product, organic digestate, will be land-spread back onto farm land as a bio-fertiliser.