Residents win battle to oppose digester plant

Residents in Drumbo have welcomed the decision by the Planning Service to reject plans for an anaerobic digestion plant in the area.

A planning application had been lodged in 2011 seeking permission for a 500kw heat and power plant near the Front Road in Drumbo. The application also sought permission for an office building, new feed stock area, as well as staff and visitor car parking.

At the time residents in Drumbo reacted furiously to the application, with 303 letters of objection being lodged with the planners, opposing the proposed energy plant. A petition with over 100 signatures was also lodged with the Planning Service.

At a meeting of Lisburn City Council’s Planning Committee this week, the planners rejected the application, stating that “insufficient information” had been submitted by the applicant.

Residents have welcomed the decision by the Planning Service. A spokesperson for the Drumbo & District Community Association commented: “We are delighted that common sense has prevailed in this case and remain astounded that an industrial operation of this size could ever have been given consideration in such a rural environment. We would like to acknowledge the invaluable help of local councillors, in particular Councillor Uel Mackin, Edwin Poots MLA, Paul Givan MLA and Jonathan Craig MLA, who assisted residents every step of the way and were able to facilitate meetings with planning officials and government ministers.”

Chairman of the Council’s Planning Committee, Councillor Uel Mackin, said: “This application has been in the planning process for three years and was previously recommended for approval but it transpired that local residents had not been adequately consulted. Issues around traffic, the source of raw materials, the destination of digestate materials and local support had not been fully considered.”

Councillor James Baird also welcomed the decision, saying: “It is not often I welcome refusals within the planning process but on this occasion I welcome it. This development would have had an enormous effect on the rural character of the area, as well as an enormous effect on the roads in the area. I would also praise the local residents for all their hard work in opposing this application.”