The Ulster Unionist Party’s South Antrim MLA, Steve Aiken OBE, has welcomed today’s High Court ruling that the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Infrastructure had no power to approve the planning application for an incinerator at Mallusk in County Antrim, a decision which was taken in September 2017.
Steve Aiken MLA said:
“I welcome the decision made by Mrs Justice Keegan today in respect to ARC21 Waste to Power project. While there has been much comment made on the decision and its implications for reviewing the role of senior civil servants, this should not detract from a key point around the need for this facility in the first place.
“The Ulster Unionist Party has been to the fore in criticising the lack of any coherent energy policy in Northern Ireland and a lack of any strategic overview in how we can plan for the future. It is breath-taking that part of the flawed reasoning for the ARC21 project was to pay for it by selling electricity generated; but the only way this could have worked (even if ARC21 had a grid connection – which it hasn’t) would be to use rate payers subsidised waste energy to directly compete for tax payers subsidised renewable energy! And this would take place in a market that both SONI and the Utility Regulator says has already met demand - indeed is apparently so overprovided that the 28% of generating capacity which had been provided by Kilroot, is no longer required.
“We have called time and again for a far reaching review of our energy strategy, but yet again, neither the Utility Regulator, nor the Departments for the Economy or Infrastructure have managed to break out of their silos to even evaluate the obviously flawed ARC 21 scheme against our real needs. Mrs Justice Keegan has given a suitable brake on any further ARC21 development – we should now, before we create another £240M RHI-like debacle, ensure that the Hightown Incinerator is given the swiftest burial possible.”