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`We'll never forgive minister if incinerator gets the go ahead' - Group's warning to Poots

Farmers from the Glenavy area who are opposing the incinerator plan. US4309-136A0RAY Clarke, Chairman of the Communities Against the Lough Neagh Incinerator has said the local community will never forgive Environment Minister Edwin Poots if he gives the go ahead for the -scheme.

Rejecting claims by Rose Energy, the company behind the incinerator plan, that the development will bring jobs to the area, Mr Clarke said "dangling short term construction jobs" and investment had to be balanced against the effect it would have on the environment of the Lough and the potential loss of fishing and tourism jobs.

"Our message to Edwin Poots and Rose Energy is that our environment is not for sale, it is as simple as that. We commissioned a comprehensive independent site survey of Northern Ireland which has identified over 30 more appropriate locations for this project and Ballymena Councillor Deirdre Nelson has welcomed the fact that the plant could be located there" Mr Clarke said. "We will not be bullied and we will not be bought and we will hold our civil servants, our public protection bodies and our politicians to account by every legal means at our disposal to ensure this project is not built on the shores of Lough Neagh," he promised.

Free range egg producer Denis Brankin of Fruitvale Farm, Glenavy also spoke out against the incinerator plan, criticising the Ulster Farmers Union for, he said, failing to take into consideration the negative impact on local farmers by giving their support for the Rose Energy Incinerator.

"We have 4,500 free range hens in five acres of rotational fields, which would be just 300 metres from this proposed incinerator," said Mr Brankin. "I have built the business up over the last 15 years and we sell eggs across five counties in Northern Ireland.

"Noise, water discharge, pollutants and smell could have a drastic effect on our production and an incinerator literally next door would destroy our entire free range ethos. "What is the Ulster Farmers Union thinking? Surely this plant would be better suited to an industrial setting? I know better than anyone that the poultry industry needs a solution to the chicken litter problem but a rural farming community on the shores of Lough Neagh is not the solution.

"Local farmers should now band together and call the UFU to account as this is not an issue which should have poultry farmers in opposite camps," he added.

Ulster Star