Campaigners lose fight against Kent waste plant plans

image captionThe new plant would use about 500,000 tonnes of waste a year

Campaigners have lost their fight against plans to build a waste-to-energy incinerator in Kent.

They are worried the incinerator, planned for land next to Kemsley Paper Mill, will lead to air pollution, food contamination and traffic congestion.

The owners of the mill, near Sittingbourne, say the incinerator will give it a long-term power source, securing hundreds of local jobs.

Kent county councillors approved the proposals at a meeting on Tuesday.

Iwade parish councillor Joan Exley, who is against the incinerator plans, argued residents already had to put up with unpleasant smells from industry and traffic problems.

She fears the area is fast becoming the South East's waste dumping ground.

"It's an accumulation of all the planning that's going on in the area, leading to pollution and congestion on our roads.

'Need to diversify'

"At the moment Kent County Council is looking at a potential five plants like this in the area, and we think that's five too many."

The plant will use about 500,000 tonnes of waste a year, most of it from Kent, and generate about a third of the mill's power.

Will Faure-Walker, commercial director at St Regis Paper, which owns the mill, said it could no longer rely on its existing gas power source because of rising prices.

"We need to diversify away from fossil fuels. Energy is around 15% of our cost base and rising as gas prices increase.

"To remain competitive in the long term this is critical. We are a key contributor to the local economy and we employ about 800 people in the area."

The proposals, which had been recommended for approval by the county's planning officers, could see up to 250 extra lorries a day heading down the M2 and A249.

As well as 27 official objection letters, the council also received one in support of the plans, from union Unite, which says it represents 450 mill workers.

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