Protesters disrupt health committee

Stormont’s health committee was suspended for five minutes after protesters interrupted the meeting.

Two men entered the room at Magee College, University of Ulster in Derry, and confronted MLAs about proposals for a waste incinerator in the area.

The committee, in the city for a special visit, had just finished taking evidence on the Tobacco Retailers Bill when the demonstrators sat down at the table and said they wanted to raise the alleged health implications of placing a rubbish-burning centre in the area.

Proceedings were halted and several members spoke to them outside and agreed to hold informal talks at a later date.

MLA Roy Beggs said: “Two guys pulled up and started talking at the head of the table but we could not allow that to happen. If we did, everybody would do that and it would be utter chaos.”

The incinerator site would be five miles from Londonderry city centre at Strathfoyle.

Derry City Council and six other councils across the North West have appointed a consortium to deliver a £500 million mechanical treatment to recover recyclable waste and super-heat the rest to produce renewable energy.

The plant will handle 140,000 tonnes of household waste every year from homes from Strabane to Moyle by 2015/16, subject to council approval which has not yet been granted.

Some residents have opposed the plans and protesters interrupted a Derry City Council committee meeting recently to raise the issue.

Local companies seeking to bid for new long-term waste contracts across Northern Ireland claim they could save Northern Ireland’s ratepayers £20 million a year. The 25-year contracts are being set up to ensure NI’s councils hit EU targets on recycling and avoid huge fines.

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