CAMPAIGNERS who fought against plans by Hills Waste for an incinerator plant in Westbury are celebrating after Wiltshire Council recommended Secretary of State Michael Gove should refuse the plans when he makes the final decision.

After gaining permission for a simpler incineration plant in 2015, Hills Waste filed an application for a bigger plant with newer technology. The plan was debated by Wiltshire councillors at their strategic planning committee on Wednesday morning.

But they were divided on the best action to take after a lengthy three-hour debate, and found themselves going round in circles before having to seek legal advice from their solicitor.

Cllr Sarah Gibson first suggested that they approve the plans with strict conditions, such as 24-hour monitoring of the new plant in order to prevent fires. However, they were told by planning officer Andrew Guest that this condition was unreasonable.

Cllr Ernie Clark then proposed the committee did not make a decision at all, saying he felt they didn’t want to refuse the plan without having time to write up strong reasons for doing so which could withstand an appeal, but again the planning officer stepped in and told them a decision had to be made.

They finally voted to refuse the application, saying the plant building was too tall and too bulky. The scheme now goes to the Secretary of State who will consider Wiltshire Council’s views before making a final decision.

Residents who have been campaigning against the plans since 2015 were pleased with the outcome, although they felt it did not show the smoothest of decision-making.

Harriet James, who lives in Warminster, said: “It was quite extraordinary to see the cracks in the planning process and where the gaps are between Wiltshire Council, Public Health and the Environment Agency.”

Fellow protester Margaret Cavanna said: “I was surprised at how difficult it was for the councillors to make a decision.

“It shows a lack of prior knowledge and they should have done their research on the issues beforehand.

“But I am really pleased that members took a very responsible approach to not go ahead due to the size and scale of the plant.”

Maggy Daniells said: “This was a brilliant result. It is very encouraging to see our councillors standing up for the people of Westbury.”

A spokesman for Hills Waste said: “We are extremely disappointed by the outcome. The facility has existing planning permission and we will discuss this outcome with our stakeholders and decide on a way forward after that.”