A plan to build a controversial £240m incinerator in Northern Ireland has been halted by the country’s High Court.
The judge ruled a civil servant did not have the authority to approve a planning application for the Arc21 energy-from-waste scheme in County Antrim.
Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government, or any ministers, for a year-and-a-half after the power-sharing agreement collapsed.
But in her ruling on the judicial review, Ms Justice Keegan said the decision should still have been taken by a minister and not by the Department for Infrastructure permanent secretary Peter May.
The ruling has raised fears that other major construction projects in Northern Ireland could be affected.
Around 4,000 letters of objection were lodged against plans for the incinerator at Hightown Quarry, in Mallusk. The site would have been used to treat up to 300,000 tonnes of waste.
The scheme was originally rejected in 2015, but subsequently approved by Northern Ireland’s Planning Appeals Commission.
A spokesperson for waste firm Arc21, which proposed the scheme, told the BBC it was disappointed with the ruling and it “will take time to consider the judgement in detail and consult with our stakeholders”.
Becon Consortium, the scheme’s developer, also voiced its dismay at the decision.
“We are disappointed with the outcome of the judicial review process for what we believe is one of the most regionally significant and strategically important infrastructure projects currently required here in Northern Ireland,” it said in a statement on its website.
A Department for Infrastructure spokeswoman told the BBC: “The department is considering today’s judgement.”