Lisburn Castlereagh’s Mullaghglass waste contract to potentially cease next year, report says

The operators behind the Mullaghglass Landfill site have indicated to Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) that it may not be extending their contract beyond the end of January next year, it can be revealed.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 4:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 4:14 pm
The operators behind the Mullaghglass Landfill site have indicated to Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) that it may not be extending their contract beyond the end of January next year, it can be revealed.

It comes after the Local Democracy Reporting Service was shown a document due to go before members of the Environmental Services Committee on September 13.

The document states that Alpha Management Resource Ltd, which runs the site, recently provided informal notice over their intentions not to seek an extension to the contract when the initial term comes to an end from January 31 next year.

The notice likely applies to all councils who use the site for residual waste disposal – including Belfast City Council.

The decision could leave LCCC’s waste management in limbo with the local authority required to find an alternative waste disposal destination in October.

The majority of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council residual waste is disposed of at the Mullaghglass landfill site through a municipal waste disposal contract put in place through arc21.

The site, which is around four miles from Lisburn, allows for the direct haul to the location on a daily basis.

And according to the document, any alternative site will bring “operational challenges in the cost to the council associated with “increased transport times, vehicle use and staff time”.

It’s understood that arc21 and LCCC officers have been exploring “short term” options to deal with disposal capacity from February.

One of the options that has been identified by arc21 and the local authority is to use the landfill site at Cottonmount, Mallusk. The site is currently operated by Biffa Waste Services Ltd.

However, if approved it’s estimated that the potential cost for the site for February and March could land the council with a bill of £100,000, paid with ratepayers' money.

It’s anticipated that the additional haulage costs will be in the region of £13,500 per month.

In relation to the potential additional disposal costs, the council currently pays £8.93 per tonne for disposal of landfill waste at Mullaghglass.

An increase in gate fee to £23.50 per tonne for use of the Biffa site at Mallusk would represent an additional average monthly cost for the gate fee in the region of £36,000 per month.

Council officers have also anticipated the financial arrangement “would likely to continue into the next financial year.”

It’s understood that waste from Belfast as well as Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is already buried at the Mallusk site with residents also frequently complaining about a stench.

Another option identified in the document would be for the council to explore with Alpha Management Resource Ltd the possibility of reconsidering their current position.

However, according to the document, the group has already indicated that they would require a higher gate fee if operations were to continue beyond January 31 2022.

It’s unknown how much of an increase Alpha Resource Management would ask for at present.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted Alpha Management Resource Ltd on the potential cessation of the contract between the parties but they didn’t reply to the request.

However, in August, the operator told the BBC News NI website that it “works to the highest environmental and industry standards in operating and managing [the] site and we comply in full with the industry regulator NIEA.”

The Public Health Agency also said that the majority of smells experienced in the Lisburn and West Belfast communities were “not harmful to health” or represented “an immediate threat” to the population.

Meanwhile, the confidential document also sets out plans for the “long term considerations and constraints”.

The document reads: “Overall waste arisings continue to increase year-on-year and whilst efforts are ongoing to deliver the arc21 Residual Waste Treatment Project, interim arrangements for the treatment of residual waste is required.

“Arc21 is progressing options to provide these interim arrangements and, subject to the absence of any legal challenges to the proposals, these should be in place by mid-2022.

“The interim treatment of residual waste will facilitate a move away from a sole reliance on landfill, contributing towards landfill diversion but may come at a higher cost than landfill alone.”

Members of the Environmental Services Committee met on Monday to hear the proposals.