Concerned Drumbo residents are set to meet with planning officials to discuss an application for an anaerobic digestion plant in the area.
Residents say they only became aware of the plans six weeks ago even though the application was presented before Lisburn City Council in March and was recommended by the Planning Department for approval,
The application submitted in 2011 by Turkington Farms also includes combined heat and power plant/office building, new feed stock area, proposed staff/visitor car parking facilities, ancillary works and access works; 70 metres North-East of no 45 Front Road Drumbo.
A spokesperson for the Drumbo & District Community Association said: “The plant is to be situated on a small farm of 34 acres, but we understand that it would require waste slurry and feedstocks from at least 500 acres of land to operate. This would involve road transport of farm waste products along the network of narrow country roads which surround our rural village.”
Residents voiced their anger that “this huge industrial development” could even be considered, due to its location.
The spokesperson said: “The viability of anaerobic digesters has also been called into question, as the department has only recently launched a public consultation in order to develop guidelines for their use.”
The community group also feel that the inadequacy of the roads infrastructure surrounding the proposed development is a major cause for concern.
“The site lies on a school bus route and there are no footpaths. Therefore the increase in heavy traffic will compromise the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other road users alike,” the spokesperson said.
Having already handed in over 250 letters of objection, residents plan to highlight the campaign to have the application refused and have arranged to present a signed Petition at Downpatrick Planning Office this Friday at 10am to which local residents are invited to attend.
Chairman of Lisburn City Council, Councillor Uel Mackin said: “The planning application was lodged with Planning Service mid 2011 and came to Council in March this year with a recommendation from the Department to approve. There were no objections recorded and no member had been made aware of any. However, it was only in August this year, after a property sale had fallen trough that the residents became aware of the application.”
He continued: “Whilst I understand that the department issued neighbourhood notifications to the three closest neighbours and advertised in three local newspapers nobody in the Drumbo locality seems to have been aware of the planning application.
“Clearly this is disturbing and calls into question the adequacy of the consultation process and I will be asking that the Department undertake a review of the processes involved and how they can be improved. In response to my intervention on behalf of constituents the Area Planning Manager was willing allow some time, before making a final decision, so that residents would have the opportunity to register any objections or comments they have in relation to the application and I very much welcome that.”
He explained that he has been contacted by a “considerable number” of constituents and has met with a representative group of residents.
A DOE spokesperson said: “Consultation with neighbouring residents is an important part of the planning process. Neighbours were notified and press advertisements published for this planning application. All representations and objections will be fully considered before any decision will issue.”