September 8, 2023 [Nothern Ireland]- A controversial planning application for an import, storage and fuel distribution facility on the east Antrim coast has been approved by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Planning Committee.
An application for the redevelopment of Cloghan Point oil terminal outside Whitehead was given the go-ahead at a meeting on Thursday morning despite 400 letters of objection.
Paul Duffy, the council’s head of planning. told the committee the proposal is for the redevelopment of an existing oil terminal at Cloghan Point which currently stores oil reserves for the Republic of Ireland.
The application seeks to provide an import, storage and distribution facility for petrol, dual purpose kerosene, gas oil and diesel as well as the import, storage and blending of bio fuels.
It will also involve the demolition of existing buildings and chimney stack as well as jetty modifications, vapour recovery unit, four new storage tanks and operations building.
The committee heard the terminal was constructed more than 40 years ago to facilitate distribution of heavy fuel oil to Kilroot Power Station and Ballylumford Power Station in Islandmagee.
Members were told the site “must be maintained in a safe, operational condition”. Mr Duffy went on to say an environmental statement includes an assessment of alternative sites which he said have been “discounted for various reasons”.
He noted the proposed redevelopment of an existing site meets policy requirements and would have “no significant impact on the rural character” adding that re-location of the terminal would not be possible.
He indicated a £30m redevelopment of the site would make a “significant contribution to the local economy” leading to the creation of 30 full-time jobs. He said 300 vehicle movements daily is anticipated at the site which would be operational 24 hours but would be expected mostly between 6am and 10pm.
“We are of the view that the development would not result in capacity issues at the junction of the A2 at Quay Lane. Traffic generation would have an insignificant effect on the surrounding highway network. The development will not have an unacceptable impact on tourism.”
He noted 400 letters of objection to the proposal with concerns about climate change, local roads, marine environment of Belfast Lough as well as “encouraging further dependency on fossil fuels”.
However, Mr Duffy suggested transition to a renewable source of energy will “take time”. “In the meantime, we will need a reliable source of fuels. Northern Ireland depends on the import of fuels such as gas and oil,” he commented.
He also noted there were concerns raised about potential environmental impact. He reported the Northern Ireland Environment Agency has advised it is content that this has been “adequately assessed” and has concluded the project will “not have an adverse impact”. He went on to say health and safety is regulated by the Health and Safety Executive.
East Antrim Alliance MLA Danny Donnelly said the proposed development would have a “very significant impact” on the area with the arrival of tankers transporting fuel from the United States and Middle East.
“The application deviates significantly from previous use which has been a static site with little activity.”
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