T5. Mr Lunn asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, after asking the Minister for the Economy to pass on his best wishes to his constituency colleague Edwin Poots, to outline the potential impact on the provision of anaerobic digestion plants in light of the fact that Minister Poots has let it be known more than once that he does not think that Northern Ireland needs an incinerator. (AQT 785/17-22)
There is a debate about the incinerator, and I have no intention of engaging in it today. However, my Department is responsible for a new energy strategy, and looking at different types of energy and how they can be inputted into the grid will be key to it. We hope to bring out that strategy for consultation in March 2021, and the Member will, I am sure, contribute his views on anaerobic digestion and waste and energy to it.
The Minister will know that the jury is out on anaerobic digestion as a long-term solution to our needs, particularly in view of the carbon footprint of the whole process, the extent to which anaerobic digestion plants depend on government subsidy at the moment, and the limited life of the plant involved, which, I believe, is no more than about 10 years. There is also huge cost involved in replacing it. So, are we quite sure that Minister Poots should not exclude totally the requirement for an incinerator because an awful lot of academic information seems to indicate that we need one, and fairly quickly?