03 March 2006

It's Over: No asbestos dump in West Belfast


After weeks of tireless campaigning Grove Services Group finally agree to pull the plug on their controversial asbestos dump planned for the West

by Francesca Ryan

Controversial plans for an asbestos storage facility in West Belfast have been scrapped thanks to the Andersonstown News-backed campaign which has been running for the last two months.

In a welcome turnaround, Grove Services Group, the company behind the plans, announced this week that they would not be proceeding with the contentious planning application.

The decision came after the company's Managing Director, Dougie Sloan, held a series of talks with local representatives including Sinn Féin's Paul Maskey (right) who headed the campaign against the dump.

“Grove Services are to be congratulated on this decision," said a pleased Councillor Maskey yesterday.

“After consultation with political and community representatives, Grove Services have taken the fears of local people on board and have agreed to abandon plans to bring an asbestos transfer facility to their Kennedy Way premises.

“People living and working in this area will be relieved that Grove Services have put the needs of the community before their own business interests.
“The reality is that the Planning Service would have allowed the planning application for an asbestos transfer facility.

“Against this background the Grove Services’ decision to withdraw their proposals in this regard is wholly commendable."

Although grateful that the potentially deadly substance will not be transported through or stored in densely-populated West Belfast, Councillor Maskey called for a more stringent policy in the planning arena as the current system, he says, offers little opportunity for communities to challenge such applications.

“Thanks to the Grove Services’ decision the Upper Falls area will not have to face the prospect of asbestos storage. However, it should not go unnoticed that government policy in this regard leaves local communities wide open to this sort of threat.

“West Belfast has been fortunate in this instance in so far as this particular application was made by a local company sympathetic to the needs of local people.

“Were this not the case, the outcome might have been entirely different. Legislation relating to asbestos storage needs to be tightened to ensure that public safety considerations are not just left to the goodwill of the business community.”

Journalist:: Francesca Ryan

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