Policy WMT3 Waste Disposal Sites
A proposal for the development of landfill or land raising facilities for the disposal of waste will be permitted where it meets the General Policy and accords with other provisions of the LDP. In addition, applicants will be required to demonstrate that all the following criteria are met:
There is a need for the facility as established through the WMS and the Council’s WMP;
No feasible option for the management of waste at a higher level in the waste hierarchy is possible; and
The proposed facility complies with all of the following criteria:
It will not result in an unacceptable adverse environmental impact that cannot be prevented or appropriately controlled by mitigating measures (see Policy WMT1 Environmental Impact of a Waste Management Facility);
Significant mineral reserves are not sterilised;
It is suitably located within an active or worked out hard rock quarry, in a void left by mineral extraction, or it returns land that is despoiled, derelict or contaminated back into productive use;
In the case of a regional scale landfill or land raising site, its location closely relates to and allows for easy access to key transport corridors and, where practicable make use of the alternative transport modes of rail and water; and
Detailed measures are included for the appropriate restoration and aftercare of sites that will help to enhance biodiversity.
Justification and Amplification
This policy applies to all proposals for the disposal of household, industrial and commercial waste. It seeks to ensure that the need for any landfill or land raising facilities for the disposal of waste is established through the WMS and the Council’s WMP and that such facilities will not have an unacceptable environmental impact, have appropriate restoration measures, are well located, and meet normal planning requirements. Importantly, applicants must also clearly demonstrate that no alternative option exists for the more sustainable management of waste at a higher level in the waste hierarchy. Applicants will also have to obtain appropriate waste management authorisation from NIEA.
Landfilling involves the disposal of waste into void spaces often left as a result of mineral extraction. Land raising is the disposal of waste by depositing on land thereby raising its level. The disposal of municipal waste through either method is positioned at the bottom of the waste hierarchy and is invariably the least sustainable waste management option. Particular issues associated with these methods include the risk of the release of methane gas into the air and adjoining ground or leachate into the soil, groundwater and surface water. Compliance with the siting, engineering and operational requirements of the EU Landfill Directive is an essential pre-requisite and strict controls will be applied under waste management licensing and IPPC permitting51.
Waste disposal proposals will be expected to include a statement identifying the waste implications of the development, measures taken to minimise and manage the waste generated, a critical analysis of the alternative methods of treatment for the particular waste material and its potential for recycling, composting or energy recovery. To comply with the Landfill Directive, the absolute quantities of waste going to landfill must reduce. The WMS therefore envisages a progressive reduction and consolidation of landfill capacity and overall number of landfill sites.
Planning permission will be refused where any proposal would have an unacceptable impact on the environment. All planning applications for waste disposal will also be assessed against Policy WMT1 Environmental Impact of a Waste Management Facility and the principles of sustainable waste management. Where appropriate, planning conditions may be required to mitigate or compensate for potential environmental impacts.
It is essential that all waste disposal facilities that contain putrescible waste are well designed and operated. Applications for municipal waste landfill and land raising operations must be accompanied by details of leachate and land fill gas treatment. The Landfill Directive bans the co-disposal of inert, hazardous and non-hazardous waste and all waste going to landfill must be pre-treated. In addition, certain wastes are banned from land filling as a disposal method altogether.
Waste disposal, through landfilling can sometimes be suitably located within a hard rock quarry or where the impact of the operations will not have a detrimental effect on residential amenity or the environment. It is important that such proposals do not sterilise mineral reserves considered to be of particular value to the economy. Other sites may be considered where it can be demonstrated that the waste disposal proposal accompanied by a subsequent restoration plan can deliver environmental benefit, for example, that arising through the productive reuse of despoiled, derelict or contaminated land.
Land raising, in that it creates a new landform, has the potential to significantly impact on the landscape and environmental heritage assets. As a result, careful consideration will be given to the proposed landform and scale of land raising activities to ensure that these can satisfactorily be assimilated into the surrounding landscape.
Careful restoration and aftercare is essential to prepare landfill or land raising sites for a use which is compatible with the surrounding area. Proposals should be detailed, comprehensive, practical and achievable and they should help promote or enhance local biodiversity. All applications for landfill and land raising operations must be accompanied by drawings illustrating typical cross-sections through the site and indicating depth of fill, capping details, final restoration contours, planting and other relevant details.