PROTESTORS have vowed to carry on fighting plans for a new gasification plant in Westbury despite the Government's decision not to call them in for review.

Housing Minister Kit Malthouse dashed the hopes of the Westbury Gasification Action Group (WGAG) by saying he was going to leave Wiltshire Council to determine the application.

Northacre Renewable Energy Ltd, part of the Swindon-based Hills Group, has already gained approval for the new facility next to its Resource Recovery Centre in Westbury.

Declining the request, Mr Malthouse told South West Wiltshire MP Dr Andrew Murrison: "I appreciate that this is not the preferred outcome for you and your constituents, however, it is now for Wiltshire Council to determine the application."

Dr Murrison said afterwards: “I’m grateful to the minister for looking carefully at this to see if he can intervene.

"Even now I urge the planning authority to see what it can legally do to reflect the concerns of residents, including insisting on the strictest conditions of operation on this unwanted, unnecessary and completely inappropriately located plant.”

WGAG spokeswoman Margaret Cavanna said they were "very disappointed" with the Minister's decision.

"It was a very big hope to have the decision reviewed by a planning inspector because we feel there were flaws in the way things were scrutinised by Wiltshire Council's strategic planning committee."

Hills Group chief executive Michael Hill said: “We are pleased that the Secretary of State has decided that there are no grounds to call in the recent decision by Wiltshire Council."

"Northacre Renewable Energy will become an invaluable element of Wiltshire’s waste and energy infrastructure. It will generate enough renewable electricity to power 46,000 homes, while removing the need for thousands of long distance lorry journeys, by providing a local solution to non-recyclable waste.

"We are now able to plan for the construction of the facility and will work closely with local stakeholders and the community, to ensure we minimise any negative impacts, and maximise the benefits, through construction and eventual operation of the facility.”

The planning committee met on Thursday, June 20 to decide Northacre Renewable Energy's application for a 10.61-kilometre underground grid connection from the Westbury facility to an electricity substation in Frome.

The connection would see 10.61-kilometres of cable laid in trenches 1.45m deep and 0.45m wide, of which around 4km would be in Wiltshire and the rest in Somerset.

Town and parish councils in Westbury and Dilton Marsh have both objected to the connection, as has Dr Murrison.

He said: “I object since it is linked to an application for a gasification plant which I strongly oppose on the grounds of possible environmental impact, existing over-provision of incinerators, the health precautionary principal, disruption to the lives of my constituents and the small amount of energy that would be generated.”