A FORMER Wiltshire councillor says Northacre Renewable Energy’s proposal to build an incinerator in Westbury will be a massive blot on the landscape.

Northacre Renewable Energy is proposing to change the technology for its Northacre facility from gasification to conventional moving grate combustion.

The facility has existing planning permission, which was granted in 2019, however the change of technology now being proposed requires a new planning application to be submitted.

Former Wiltshire councillor David Jenkins, who resigned his seat last year, said he thinks the company is just trying to "tick a box" on community engagement with its plans for a virtual meeting on Tuesday.

He said: “I don’t think that the community of Westbury and surrounding areas realise the implications for the town should this application be approved.

“Do you want to live in a town that has an incinerator and all the implications to health and the environment that it will come with it, such as smells, flies, dust and air pollution etc.

“As well as the existing community, there willbe many people with families moving into their new homes on the housing estates, some of which will be very close to the proposed incinerator.

"The applicant has arranged to have a virtual meeting on Tuesday so that members of the public who have registered can see a presentation and ask questions and send e-mails etc.

“This, in my opinion, is a cop out; it’s no substitute for a public meeting in this instance. Northacre Renewable Energy are taking full advantage of the current lockdown regulations to suit their own ends.

“They have to tick a box on the form for the planning application saying that they have engaged with the community. They will use the virtual meeting as evidence that they have.

“The community of Westbury and surrounding area deserve to have a full public meeting or, with the permission when the application is on the Town Council planning agenda, to meet the applicant and to be given the chance to discuss this application in full. I can’t stress to the community how important this is.

“There are many hundreds, if not thousands, of members of the public throughout the town and surrounding area that must be given the chance to speak face-to-face with the applicant, not down the other end of a camera.

“If the applicant had any consideration or thought for the community they would defer it until such times as lockdown regulations permit this even if it’s for several months.

“Westbury has had enough of waste. It’s a great town with great community. We would let ourselves and the younger generation down if we let Northacre Renewable Energy build and install an incinerator in our town.”

The Westbury Gasification Action Group and around ten local town councils have vowed to strongly oppose Northacre Renewable Energy’s new planning application.

Northacre Renewable Energy claims the electricity generated will boost the local electricity supply network, unlocking development on the surrounding employment zone on Northacre Industrial Estate and nearby Hawke Ridge Business Park.

Once operational, the Northacre facility will support 40 permanent, skilled jobs. During the construction phase, at peak activity, there will be around 450 construction workers employed.

NREL expects to submit the planning application to the local authority in July / August this year and submit its Environmental Permit application to the Environment Agency immediately after validation of the planning application.

Further details on the proposals can be viewed at www.northacre-energy.co.uk and a virtual community engagement event will be held on Tuesday at 6pm. This will be an opportunity for those interested to engage with the NREL team.

Details on how to participate will be emailed to those who register their interest at: Northacre@bioenergyinfrastructure.com. The registration process will allow for submission of questions in advance of the event.

Those who do not have access to the internet can call 0118 929 8350 to register their interest and receive written details on how to dial-in by telephone.