A planning application to build an anaerobic digester on land adjacent to the River Bann near Portstewart was the subject of visit by the Minister for the Environment, Mark H Durkan, who heard the views of local residents who are concerned about the proposal.
He was accompanied by local SDLP Assembly Member John Dallat and Councillor Maura Hickey who are backing the residents in their call for reversal of the opinion of the Planning Service which is to approve.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Dallat said: “This proposal to build an anaerobic digester on one of the most sensitive stretches of the River Bann would be a major setback in the overall plan to manage this magnificent river in a way that protects the environment, marine life, wildlife and the opportunities to develop recreation and tourism in the long term.
“Anaerobic digesters, wind farms and hydro-electric schemes have their place in providing renewable energy but it cannot be on the basis of a free for all with no regard to the environment or the rights of people.
“This proposal, in my opinion and in the opinion of many local residents meets none of the criteria which would allow it to sit comfortably in this area.”
The meeting was also attended by a number of local councillors from different parties who lent their support to the residents for a change of heart by the planners.
Councillor Maura Hickey, who represents the area, thanked the Minister for his decision to come and listen to the concerns of the people most directly affected should this proposal proceed.
She also thanked her council colleagues for their united support in the campaign to protect the rights of residents and preserve the River Bann which one day she believed would transform the local economy and provide first-class recreation and tourism amenities on a parallel with the River Shannon.