HC Deb 19 December 1997 vol 303 cc378-9W
Kate Hoey

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what are the implications of phase 2 of the Cottonmount landfill site for re-cycling measures in Northern Ireland; [20783]

(2) if an environmental impact study was carried out on phase 1 of the Cottonmount landfill site; [20786]

(3) if an environmental impact study will be carried out before any decision is taken on phase 2 of the Cottonmount landfill site; [20787]

(4) to what extent she will take the draft EC Directive on the Landfill of Waste into account before a decision on phase 2 of the Cottonmount landfill site is made; [20788]

(5) if the minimum separation distance from site boundaries to residential and recreational areas of phase 2 of Cottonmount landfill site is less than the draft EC directive's general requirements; [20782]

(6) what assessment she has made of the Newtownabbey Borough Council independent environmental study into the effects of phase 1 of Cottonmount landfill site on local residents.[20784]

Mr. Paul Murphy

Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Planning Service under its chief executive, Mr. T. W. Stewart. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from T. W. Stewart to Kate Hoey, dated 19 December 1997: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has asked me to reply to your recent Questions about the Cottonmount landfill site at Mallusk Belfast. There are no direct implications of Phase 2 of the Cottonmount landfill site for recycling measures in Northern Ireland. The new Waste Management and Contaminated Land (NI) Order 1997 includes a requirement that a Northern Ireland Waste Strategy be prepared. Work is already under way on the Strategy which will inter alia promote the hierarchy of waste management options which range from waste minimisation, through re-cycling to landfill at the bottom of the list. The recycling measures which flow from the Order together with the landfill tax all mitigate against landfill. However, there is likely to be an on-going need for landfill sites for materials which are not recyclable and, for example, residues from incineration. The application to landfill Phase 1 of the Cottonmount site was submitted on 31 May 1988 prior to the introduction of the Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1989 on 1 March 1989. A formal environmental statement could not therefore have been sought for that application. An environmental statement was requested, submitted and carefully considered with the current application for Phase 2 prior to the Notice of Opinion to approve issuing. The EC Directive has been in preparation for a number of years and a previous draft was rejected by the European Parliament in May 1996. Article 18 of the EC directive states that Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive before 30 June 2000. While the draft EC Directive is a material consideration, only limited cognisance can be taken of it. Annex 1 of the draft Directive states that the separation distance from the boundary of the site to residential areas should be a minimum of 500 metres in the case of municipal waste landfills and 2 kilometres in the case of hazardous waste landfills. In Phase 2 of the Cottonmount site residential and recreation areas are closer to the boundary than currently stated in the draft EC Directive. Newtownabbey Borough Council has appointed independent consultants to consider the landfilling practices of the operators and to investigate particularly the causes of odours generated by Phase 1 of Cottonmount. As work on the study has not yet commenced no account can be taken of it. The Department however, consulted Newtownabbey Borough Council for advice on the environmental health issues when processing the current application and took account of the advice when reaching an opinion as to how the application should be determined. I hope this clarifies the position.

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