A campaign to encourage Westbury residents to recycle more of their rubbish has been launched before building work begins on an incinerator to burn waste.

Many residents voiced their concerns on the plans for an incinerator at Northcare Resource Recover Centre on Stephenson Road at a meeting on Saturday.

Maggy Daniell, who lives in Warminster, outlined the importance of recycling instead of burning waste.

She said: “We need people to start recycling more and working at the top of the waste hierarchy, incineration should be the last resort.

“Wiltshire does not need another incinerator, our area is one of the worst for incinerating, and with new houses being built in the area the health risks are certainly a worry.

“I have grandchildren living in Westbury and it does worry me.

“Even if incineration is the only option, then we can still recycle more to reduce the amount being sent to the incinerator.”

A Westbury resident, wanting to only be named as Zoe said: “The incinerator they intend to build will produce harmful chemicals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and chlorine.

“The chimney will create a plume which will cover a large area of Westbury, including several nurseries, schools and retirement homes, which is worrying to say the least especially given that those at most risk are the young and the elderly.

“It is the smallest particles that have the potential to escape the filters if they are not of the upmost highest standard which will do us the most harm, entering our lungs and blood streams.”

A Facebook page, Westbury Gasification Action Group, was created for people who are against the work, and gained 600 members in just three days.

A spokesperson from Hills Waste said: “Hills supports initiatives for residents to recycle their waste and waste management contracts with Wiltshire Council have seen more than 80 percent of the county’s household waste diverted from landfill, of which 44 percent was recycled. New contracts in place for later this year will bring further improvements to household recycling opportunities.

“Modern waste management focuses on reduction, reuse and recycling with recovery of energy from waste as a further waste treatment option.

“The Northacre Renewable Energy plant is a private enterprise and is not contracted to Wiltshire Council. The facility was granted planning permission in September 2015. It will convert solid recovered fuel, currently exported to Germany, Holland and Sweden, together with commercial and industrial waste which is currently destined for landfill, into energy.

”An environmental permit will need to be issued before the facility can operate and the permit will be determined by the Environment Agency in their role as regulators of such facilities.

“Emissions from the facility will be governed by the Industrial Emissions Directive and the environmental permit.

“The plant should generate 25.50MW of power, enough to power 46,000 homes, making a contribution to the production of local electricity from renewable energy sources.

“It will create around 150 jobs during construction, expected to begin in autumn 2018, and up to 40 full time jobs.”

Another meeting will be held at the Laverton on February 12 to discuss the next stages, and will be attended by the Environment Agency and Westbury town council.