crossexaminer.co.uk

Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Overarching opposition to ‘super dump’ facility near Newtownhamilton

More than 100 concerned members of the community attended a public meeting in Newtownhamilton community centre on Friday evening last to voice their strong opposition to a proposed ‘super dump’ that could entail the storage of thousands of tonnes of non-recyclable waste on a brown-field site located on the Newry Road, outside the town.

Residents from Newtownhamilton and nearby Belleek were joined by representatives of all the local political parties to be updated on the plans put forward by Newry-based waste management firm ReGen Ltd on proposals to lease the former landfill site which it would use as a storage facility for non-recyclable waste. 

Some residents expressed concerns that this proposed facility is to be constructed on a previously contaminated landfill site, which, they feel, remedial measures with its closure were never properly dealt with by the former Newry and Mourne District Council. It was stated that the proposal to store thousands of tonnes of waste on this site would potentially increase the 500 metre radius contaminated zone already identified by the Environmental authorities. 

Some residents expressed concerns that this proposed facility is to be constructed on a previously contaminated landfill site, which, they feel, remedial measures with its closure were never properly dealt with by the former Newry and Mourne District Council. It was stated that the proposal to store thousands of tonnes of waste on this site would potentially increase the 500 metre radius contaminated zone already identified by the Environmental authorities. 

Farmers present expressed their concern about the adjoining water course and their fears for their livestock in farming land bordering this site.

Officials from the Newry Mourne & Down  District  Coin councillor, MP and members f the local community from Newtown, Belleek and effect by the attention and objection of the proposed  Landfill site on the Newtown Road. Councillor, MP from the 3 main parties were in attendance , Barra O’Muiri, David Taylor, Oonagh  Magennis, Mickey Brady and Justin NcNulty.

It was stated that more than 1400 signatures were obtained in just four days, petitioning against the proposal and fears that Newtownhamilton, which has been described as being “neglected for years”, would become a ‘dumping ground’ for waste, not only from the Council area, but from across Ireland and the UK.

The proposal to store a “man-made mountain of waste” on one of the highest points in the area was described as crazy and prompted a very emotive plea from the people for their councillors to listen and act on their emphatic rejection to this proposal.

Belleek residents present expressed their concerns about some of the consequences of this proposal such as the increased volume of HGV vehicles travelling back and forth to the site, the ability of the existing road structure – with large parts built on bog land – to cope; and the possible increase of accidents due to the back up of traffic along this meandering secondary route. 

They also voiced fears about the impact on village life with the school situated along the main street and the possible risk to the safety of their children going to school or the local park. Other concerns raised included the noise, smell and possible leakage in the transportation of this non-recyclable waste. The residents of the village present gave a resounding ‘No’ to the proposal.

Sinn Fein, UUP and SDLP Councillors in attendance offered a clear and unambiguous commitment that they and their party groups on the Council would combine to reject the 25 year lease proposal of Council land located adjacent to the civic amenity facility on the Newry Road.

Sinn Fèin Councillor Barra Ó Muirí told the audience that he has stood by them and represented their views at all times, both in Council meetings and at private meetings with ReGen. Ó Muirí acknowledged the view that Newtown was being viewed as a dumping ground, on the very edge of the district, and echoed the view that the town was in dire need of a good-news story.

His party colleague, Councillor Oonagh Magennis spoke passionately about representing the views of the residents of Belleek and pledged her support and commitment to the residents there present. She spoke of traffic concerns through Belleek village and the poor, winding road to Newtown that didn’t need extra traffic.

Following the meeting, SDLP Councillor Pete Byrne said the message is “loud and clear” that people are strongly opposed to the move.

He said: “We in the SDLP have consistently represented that view and will unequivocally vote against the proposal when it comes before the [Council’s] SPR  [Strategy Policy and Resources] committee. My door is open to any resident who has any further questions following the public meeting.  What we have seen in Newtown is a community coming together demanding better for their area and I applaud the efforts of local community activists. We must work tirelessly to ensure that the town gets the investment it sorely needs.”

The issue is up for discussion at the Council’s SP&R meeting scheduled to take place this Thursday in Downpatrick.