Contentious bid for waste plant permit in Warrenpoint Harbour withdrawn

Published by Kate O'Brien on

July 24th, 2017

A waste company has withdrawn its contentious bid for a permit to operate a waste plant in Warrenpoint Harbour in Newry following concerns from the local community.

The company, Re-Gen Waste Ltd, submitted an application in February for a Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Permit for the operation of a waste management facility in the harbour on Carlingford Lough.

However, in a statement issued last week, the Managing Director of Re-Gen, Mr Joseph Doherty, said that the company has now withdrawn its application after taking into account “the sentiments and concerns of local stakeholders”.

Local campaigners set up a group – No Toxic Lough – in opposition to the proposed facility due to fears for the “health, safety & well-being of the people of the Lough”, some of whom live within 200 metres of the proposed site.

The group also argued that there was no genuine consultation with the public despite requests from local politicians and the community and that vital information regarding the environmental status of Carlingford Lough was omitted from the application.

The group recently launched a petition calling on politicians, councillors and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to reject the application. The petition gained over 1,850 signatures.

Eoin McCartan, a local campaigner involved with No Toxic Lough welcomed Re-Gen’s decision, adding that a “huge sigh of relief has swept across Carlingford Lough”.

“We have learned that the people of the Lough coming together to stand against industry development that is detrimental to our health, homeland & environment is powerful,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard MP also welcomed the decision from Re-Gen Waste to no longer advance their plans for the plant, thanking the local community and environmental activists who campaigned against the proposed facility.

“Their dedication and commitment to protect the sensitive environment surrounding Carlingford Lough is testament to the strength of character in our local area,” the South Down MP said.

Mr Hazzard also paid tribute to the Warrenpoint Harbour Authority (WHA) for taking a “much welcomed, and public position,” on the proposal at an early stage of the planning process.

In late June, the WHA issued a statement encouraging Re-Gen to “undertake a comprehensive community consultation exercise to ensure full transparency”.

The WHA subsequently requested that Re-Gen withdraws its license application earlier this month, stating that the “proposed operation of a hazardous waste plant within the harbour estate does not feature in the Warrenpoint Harbour Plan”.

“In illustrating so clearly that [Warrenpoint Harbour Authority] value the health & well-being of the local area as well as the economic viability of the harbour they will have undoubtedly impressed very many local residents in Warrenpoint,” Mr Hazzard added.

Mr McCartan, however, said that the incident has “raised multiple questions that still need answers” in relation to the type of waste being managed at Warrenpoint Port.

He said that the community will continue to enforce its right to have “a voice in how & what industry is developed in our Lough”.

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Kate O'Brien

Kate is a freelance writer with work published in The Guardian, the Financial Times and the New York Times blog. She is a former Editor of The Plant, a UK magazine on plants and other greenery