The planning application which remains under consideration by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has received 311 objections and just one letter of support.
The Cookstown-based LCC Group, which owns the Go fuel company, bought the terminal from AES Kilroot in a multi-million pound deal in 2017. The application was submitted to the local authority in December 2018.
Campaigners say that they are concerned about the potential damage the proposal could mean for “the economy, the local environment and how the road network could cope with a substantial increase in traffic” suggesting that another oil terminal is “simply not needed in the midst of a climate crisis”.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council gave a determination on the application in March 2019 but the applicant was advised that the determination is “not a planning decision on the proposal”.
Further environmental information has been submitted to the council recently comprising a road traffic management plan, information on storm discharge and a report by Translink.
The terminal has been operational since 1979. The site currently stores strategic oil reserves for the Republic of Ireland and existing tanks contain 126,000 tonnes of heavy oil.
The planning application, which seeks proposed works for the redevelopment of an existing terminal and jetty for an import, storage and distribution facility for various fuels, includes the demolition of some of the existing buildings and the chimney on the site and “infilling” of part of the existing site for new additional tanks, road loading gantries and new operations building.
It also includes proposed jetty head modifications including the installation of new pipes along the jetty to facilitate off-loading of fuel from tankers.
Redevelopment will increase the capacity of the facility to a total storage capacity to 246,300 tonnes also “to allow the importing, storage and blending of biofuels, dyes and additives and distribution of the fuel”.
A report on the determination in March 2019 notes that the proposed redevelopment will “generate additional noise, dust, waste and traffic during the construction phase”.
“Upon operation of the facility, there will also be additional traffic, waste, noise and general disturbance due to the expansion of the storage capacity on the site and the distribution of the fuels both by the road network and by ship.”
It is also notes that when the jetty had been serving the power stations, it would have had “higher levels of activity”.
It also states: “The impact of the proposed development on water quality and clarity could potentially arise from the increase in larger ships using the jetty, their impact on the marine environment and there is potential for fuel and oil leakages/spills from the pipelines and/or other discharges into the aquatic environment which could cause pollution.”
However, the report says that there is “little indication as to the probability of any significant environmental impacts occurring”.
The report explains that an environmental statement is not required because the proposed development relates to the redevelopment of an existing oil terminal to an import storage and distribution facility for different types of fuel.
It concludes that “the environmental impacts of the proposed development have been considered carefully in the determination process and whilst there is a need for additional information to be submitted to consider the acceptability of the proposed development, the determination has taken into account various factors such as the existing land use, the characteristics of the site as well as the intensification of the site and the potential for major hazards/accidents due to the hazardous substances that will be imported, stored and distributed to and from the site”.
In June, councillors reacted angrily to a letter received by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council from the Department for Infrastructure stating: “It is the Department’s view that it would be appropriate for Mid and East Antrim to notify the Department when it reaches a recommendation in relation to the application by Cloghan Point Holdings Ltd for the redevelopment of the existing terminal to an import storage and distribution facility.”
Larne Lough DUP Alderman Paul Reid said he was “absolutely not happy to note” further correspondence regarding an application for Cloghan Point.
“This is bizarre. We have not even made a decision yet on Cloghan Point and the Department then have the cheek to tell us how to improve. In the next breath they are telling us before you make a determination, it is subject to them.
“If they want to make the decision for Cloghan Point, then let them get on with it but don’t bring the reputation of Mid and East Antrim planning committee into something that they want to play silly games over.”
Party colleague Ballymena Alderman Audrey Wales MBE said: “As far as I am concerned, I think we should gift wrap all the information we have on Cloghan Point and deliver it to DfI and tell them, there is an early Christmas present. Get on with it.”
A letter to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council from DfI states: “It is the Department’s view that it would be appropriate for Mid and East Antrim to notify the Department when it reaches a recommendation in relation to the application by Cloghan Point Holdings Ltd for the redevelopment of the existing terminal to an import storage and distribution facility.”
A spokesperson for the LCC Group said: “The planning application for the re-development of Cloghan Point oil terminal sits with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for decision.
“The LCC Group are committed to keeping local residents informed of developments and relevant activities on or near to the Cloghan Point oil terminal.”
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter