Climate Change Bill response by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has reiterated support for the controversial Arc21 incinerator proposal in Mallusk.
In a submission to the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee’s (AERA) call for evidence on the DAERA Climate Bill, the local authority says it supports proposals to reduce methane emissions from landfill and subsequent energy from waste projects such as the Arc21 proposal which the submission says will “reduce landfill, reduce methane and produce energy from the waste product”.
Arc21, made up of six constituent local authorities in Northern Ireland, including Mid and East Antrim, is behind proposals for a residual waste treatment facility in the Boghill Road area of Newtownabbey.
However, in its response to the call for evidence, the council has also expressed concern over the potential impact of future emissions targets on farmers and stressed the importance of “proper assistance” for the rural community “from the outset”.
Last February, the Northern Ireland Assembly declared a climate change emergency.
Currently, there is no specific climate change legislation in Northern Ireland unlike the rest of the UK.
The objectives of the Bill are to set targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas which could see this almost halved by 2030.
To achieve the “ambitious targets” outlined in the Climate Change Bill, the council says that “significant resources” will be required by public bodies, businesses and communities to “deliver action on the ground” and “councils in particular will require financial support to plan for climate change to adequately protect their communities” and “on a par with other global emergencies such as the Covid-19 pandemic”.
The council has also stated that it is vital that Northern Ireland “works closely with the UK and Republic of Ireland to better understand progress with climate changes”.
It says that without the necessary resources to support sectors through transition to a zero carbon economy, the objectives of this Bill will not be met.
It was also noted: “Many farmers and rural communities are concerned about how the legislation will impact their industry and livelihoods.
“It is important that the Bill provides a balance between looking after the environment with the minimum economic impact on jobs.”
Coast Road Sinn Fein Councillor James McKeown proposed that the council approved the draft response to the AERA Committee’s call for evidence.
His proposal was seconded by Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Danny Donnelly who said: “I would endorse what has been written and submitted.”
Larne Lough Ulster Unionist Councillor Keith Turner said: “We are mindful of the impact that it would have on the farming community and emphasise that the farming community will need all the help they can get.
“The biggest focus is that if we do not start doing something now, by 2050, we will be past the point of no return.”
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter
Click here to read: ‘Joint up approach’ recommended on Mid and East Antrim countryside access
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