MORE than 835 members of the Westbury Gasification Action Group and Westbury Town Council are preparing for the next stage of their battle to stop a waste gasification plant being built in the town.

They hope to halt Northacre Renewable Energy's plans by objecting to the company's application to the Environment Agency for an operating licence.

WGAG member Harriet James said: "The next stage is they have to get an operating permit from the Environment Agency. We are hoping to raise objections to their application."

Northacre Renewable Energy, which is owned by the Swindon-based Hills Group, recently withdrew its appeal against Wiltshire Council’s refusal of version two of the Advanced Thermal Treatment plant last summer.

Permission for the waste burning facility was approved in January 2019, but the Planning Inspectorate was due to decide whether to allow the maximum building height to be extended from 22 metres to 37.8 metres high and stack heights from 60m to 75m.

When the company's plans to increase the building height were refused, Wiltshire Strategic Planning Committee members said higher stacks at the waste disposal plant would have an 'adverse impact on the area due to the height, bulk and location of the development'.

However, the appeal against their decision has now been withdrawn and the original height restrictions accepted after Wiltshire Council approved in January version 3, a revised set of plans from the company.

Margaret Cavanna, of WGAG, said: "We asked the Secretary of State to call in the decision for review, but were recently notified after five months' wait, that he did not have grounds to do that.

In June, Wiltshire Council gave NRE the go-ahead to dig a 10.6 kilometre trench from the Westbury plant to Frome for a National Grid connection cable and added four new conditions to their approval.

Mrs Cavanna said: "The upshot is that very sadly for Westbury and beyond, the third version can be built. But all conditions placed on the approval have to be met.

"Most importantly, NRE have to meet the Environment Agency’s requirements to be granted an operating permit.

"Because this is a high profile/controversial project, the EA should publicise any public meetings they hold, and let people know how they can make relevant submissions. So the news isn’t good, but it’s not over yet.

"Proposal 2 was not even going to be scrutinised as a new planning application, but put through behind closed doors just as variations on proposal 1.

"Through our petition and lots of other work, we demanded a new application be submitted, helped get the refusal, and contributed to a delay of 18 months."

Mrs James says the group is now waiting for the Environment Agency to arrange dates for the public consultation on NRE's operating licence.

WGAG is also urging Wiltshire Council to state how it plans to enforce any breach of the planning conditions.