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Waste company appeals planning decision on ‘controversial scheme’

WASTE company Biffa has appealed a decision by Swansea Council rejecting its plans for a waste-to-energy plant in Llansamlet.

Objectors to the controversial scheme said they want the planning appeal to be in the form of a public hearing so they can voice their concerns.

Biffa Waste Services hoped to build the facility at its Clarion Close site, Swansea Enterprise Park.

The company said 21,000 tonnes of non-hazardous waste per year would be shredded there before recyclable materials were removed. The remainder would be burned, generating electricity and minimising trips to a landfill site in Merthyr Tydfil, where the rubbish is currently taken for burial.

But its application was unanimously rejected by the council’s planning committee at a packed meeting in May this year.

Llansamlet councillor Ryland Doyle said: “We had hoped this would have been the end of the process, but we acknowledge that Biffa had the right to appeal.

“However, we demand that that appeal is heard in public rather than behind closed doors. The people of Llansamlet deserve an open and transparent process.”

Biffa’s planning application sparked huge concern locally, and more than 2,000 objections were submitted to the council.

Campaigners were worried about potential health impacts, among other issues – but statutory bodies, such as Natural Resources Wales, did not object to the scheme and council officers recommended it for approval.

An agent on behalf of Biffa told the planning committee its current way of handling waste in Swansea was “not sustainable” and that the proposed incinerator was “good for society and good for the economy”.

Committee members also heard from a concerned resident and local ward members before turning the application down on the grounds that the incinerator’s 25m chimney stack would be visually detrimental to the area, and that the scheme failed to preserve or enhance the setting of the Llansamlet Conservation Area and a listed church nearby.

Council leader Rob Stewart said the authority would now defend this decision, and also called for a public appeal hearing.

Swansea East AM Mike Hedges, who has described incineration as “a very dangerous way of getting rid of waste materials”, has also joined the campaign.

The planning inspectorate is in the process of validating the appeal.

Biffa Waste Services declined to comment when approached by the Local Democracy Reporter Service.

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