31 March 2005


We're no dumping hole

As minister green-lights superdumps, furious residents prepare to take battle to Europe

Residents ‘devastated’ by minister’s decision to ok controversial dumps

Members of the Castlerobin Residents’ Group have vowed to bring their ‘Stop the Dumps’ campaign to Europe, following news that two massive landfill sites at Mullaghglass and Aughrim have been given the green light by Minister for the Environment, Angela Smith.

Residents say they are “devastated” by the decision to locate the two ‘superdumps’ in their communities.

They have also demanded a public inquiry into the legality of dumping millions of tonnes of rubbish in such close proximity to a residential area, and warned of roadblock protests when the sites become active.

Local woman Margaret McCroskery explained that residents believe their human and civil rights are being breached, and said the group plan to take their case to Northern Ireland Children's Commissioner, Nigel Williams.

“We’ve been told of the impact that one superdump would have on our lives in terms of health threats and traffic,” said Margaret. “That was bad enough – one lorry every six minutes carrying tonnes of waste. We can’t even begin to think about the impact that two of these landfill sites will have.”

Margaret added that feelings of hurt and anger are running very deep amongst the local community: “To say we’re furious would be a gross understatement,” she said.

“Those contracted to deliver the waste stand to make a huge amount of money, but it’s our health that’s potentially at stake.

“There are so many good people here who have lived together in this mixed community for years and years.

“None of us deserve this attack on our wellbeing. Thankfully we’ve had the full backing of Lisburn City Council. We just hope that they can still help us.”
Speaking to the Andersonstown News about the decision, Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Butler said, “The reality is that these landfill sites will become a superdump nightmare for local people in the area who will see the burial of millions of tonnes of rubbish over the next 15 years.

“Angela Smith has been panicked into making her decision given the pressure her department have been under in recent times to come up with a credible waste management strategy. The reality is that her department’s response to managing waste has been patchy and slow.”

Cllr Butler went on to say that a recent report by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee shows clearly that the DoE have lost their way over waste management.

“If the North of Ireland doesn’t meet its waste management targets set by Europe by 2010, it could face financial penalties in the order of £180 million per annum.”

Echoing Cllr Butler’s sentiment, Lagan Valley MLA Jeffrey Donaldson expressed his disappointment yesterday.

“Naturally I was saddened to learn that the Minister granted approval for the site,” he said.

“Regrettably, though, it seems there is very little that the local community can do to have the decision overturned at this stage, except perhaps challenge it on the basis of infringement of human rights.

“The decision Angela Smith has taken could potentially harm the local environment, and this is chief amongst my concerns.”

Mr Donaldson added that he would be making it his business to express to Ms Smith his grave concern about the decision.

Describing the decision as underhanded, SDLP Cllr Patricia Lewsley added her regrets and said, “This decision was taken in a cynical and underhand fashion. While no one can deny that we need to have a high quality and efficient waste management system, is the answer simply opening three further landfill sites in the Greater Belfast area?”

Although many of the local residents live in new houses which have only received planning permission in recent years, Margaret McCroskery said she did not believe they would move away on a grand scale.

“This is our home,” she said. “It’s where many of us grew up, where our families are and our friends.

“Where else would we go? We love where we live.
“We just don’t want to see it destroyed.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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