Campaigners are dismayed after a decision to prevent a waste plant opening was overturned by a Scottish Government reporter.
People in Bothwell were among those who objected to the facility in the Whitehill area of Hamilton.
Hamilton Energy Recovery Action Group warned that fumes from two 80ft chimneys would drift a considerable distance and affect people as far away as Bellshill and Motherwell.
When the proposal was first raised two years ago action group members said Clean Power Properties had been unable to give them guarantees on the safety of the plant which would be the first of its kind in Britain.
Clean Power said they would use high tech methods to extract energy from waste and generate enough energy to power 15,000 homes.
They claimed odours and noise would be kept to a minimum and only water vapour and a little carbon dioxide would be pumped from the chimneys.
South Lanarkshire Council rejected the planning application, but that ruling has now been overturned.
Government reporter David Buylla said he considered the location ‘appropriate’, adding: “Adverse effects on residents would not be significant and would be more than compensated for by the positive aspects of this proposal. These would include its contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, its employment benefits and its contribution to zero waste plan targets.”
Bothwell councillor Maureen Devlin, who voted against the plant when the matter went before the council, said the fight isn’t yet over as the company needs a licence from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency before it can operate.
She said: “I’m really disappinted at this decision as I don’t believe it’s in the interests of the community.
“Of course, we need to recycle the waste we produce and we can’t send it all to landfill as we used to, but this is too close to houses. I’ll be pushing SEPA not to grant a licence.”
The facility would operate around the clock, processing about 195,00 tonnes of waste every year.
Mr Buylla said: “The proposal would make a valuable contribution towards the significant national shortfall in the provision of waste management infrastructure.”
The reporter added there was no evidence to suggest waste plant emissions would lead to ‘significant air quality effects’.
Uddingston and Bellshill MSP Michael McMahon is angry that the Scottish Government has once again overruled a decision made by a councillors, just as it did when awarding planning permission for the expansion of Mossend Railhead after it had been refused by North Lanarkshire Council.
He wants to see proper guidelines put in place for where facilities like incinerators can be located.
The MSP said: “That’s two issues now in recent weeks where the Scottish Government has totally ignored the democratic process. When it wants something to happen it ensures it does regardless of what decision the council had made.
“An application for an incinerator was refused in Perth because there were concerns about the effect it might have on the health of prisoners in Perth prison, but it seems when it comes to local communities there is no such consideration.
“There are so many guidelines for installing things like phone masts, but for an incinerator there are no rules on how close they can be to houses, and that needs to change quickly.”