FOLLOWING last week’s meeting with Environment Minister Angela Smith to discuss as asbestos transfer station at Crumlin , South Antrim MLA David Ford stated:
“I remain extremely concerned at the way the Department of the Environment is dealing with the application for an asbestos transfer station at Crosshill.
“The delegation which I led to meet the Minister put its concerns to her in an effective and constructive manner, and the Minister expressed her personal concerns about the proposal. However, I believe that it will be very difficult to stop this development at this stage, given the past behaviour of DoE officials.
“There is no strategic approach to the handling of special waste in Northern Ireland. The Department has failed to take action itself, has failed to give a lead to local councils and is now entirely dependent upon the private sector coming forward with specific proposals for individual sites.
“This has resulted in the present situation that communities affected by proposals in areas like Crumlin and Newpark are having top fight against a presumption that there must be some facilities in NI and current planning applications are the only proposals in existence.
“The delegation from Crumlin Against Asbestos deserve to be congratulated for their efforts on behalf of the local community. Michael Keating outlined the way this particular process has operated. Siobhan Keating presented significant new evidence on dangers to the public. Tony Maguire illustrated the gaps in the current planning process. Oliver Frawley dealt with the history of Crosshill and licensing issues. The Minister can be in no doubt about how residents felt and the strength of opinion that brought out 400 people the previous week.
“Following that, Councillor Mervyn Rea told the Minister of the difficulties being experienced by Antrim and other councils.
“I do not believe that asbestos can be safely handled in the way proposed. Transferring bags from one sealed container to another in the open air is potentially putting at risk people who live in Crumlin and RAF Aldergrove. It is now up to the Minister to ensure that asbestos is handled in a way that eliminates this risk to local people.”