CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a huge renewable energy plant at Barry docks has caused an outcry after the council approved the scheme.

More than 100 letters and emails of objection were received by the council over the plan by Sunrise Renewables Limited to build a wood fuelled renewable energy/biomass plant which would process 72,000 tonnes of waste wood and feature a 43m stack chimney.

However the Vale Council’s planning committee voted, by a majority, to give the scheme the green light.

The Welsh Government also submitted a late representation letter to the committee, which it said it had sent to Friends of the Earth, stating it regarded the scheme as power generation as opposed to waste disposal.

While Vale MP Alun Cairns and Vale AM and Welsh Government minister Jane Hutt opposed the scheme, Tory Vale councillors voted in favour.

Vale Castleland councillor Pam Drake, Cllrs Nic Hodges, Chris Franks, Hartrey and Bob Penrose voted against with Cllr Margaret Wilkinson abstaining.

Vale Castleland councillor Chris Elmore spoke as a ward member against the application, saying it would hamper Barry’s regeneration, but colleague and Vale cabinet member for regeneration, Cllr Lis Burnett, was in support of the officer’s recommendations to approve.

Following the meeting, developer Douglas Wardle, speaking on behalf of Sunrise Renewables, said the company would start building work in the autumn.

Mr Wardle said: “We are hoping that the power plant will contribute to improve the reliability of power for all of Barry’s residents.”

Joan Lake, of Coronation Street, Barry, said: “I am bitterly disappointed. There’s no way I want to see children being affected by emissions.”

Barry&Vale Friends of the Earth coordinator, Keith Stockdale said he had felt on the spot when the planning officer, Marcus Goldsworthy, read the Welsh Government letter.

He said: “It made clear that the council could go ahead and pass the incinerator application because there were no environmental arguments against it and that it would have no effect on the Waterfront or the town of Barry.

"I was further astounded when Mr Galsworthy informed the meeting that this late representation, which I am given to understand should not have been presented to the meeting, was also copied in to Barry&Vale Friends of the Earth. No such communication has been received by the group and I said so at the meeting.

“The whole farce would seem to be an affront to democracy.”

Max Wallis, speaking on behalf of objectors in the Docks Incinerator Action Group (DIAG), added: “Though disappointed at the Vale Council's approval, this is not the end. They have no permit from the regulator, Natural Resources Wales, nor even applied yet. When they do, we'll argue for rejection of the energy-wasteful design and unjustified production of toxic ash-waste. Though Sunrise has planning permission for similar plants at Hull and Barrow-in-Furnace, they have not yet proceeded with them. If we maintain strong local opposition, they're unlikely to proceed at Barry either.”

Vale Castleland councillor, Chris Elmore said he could not express his disappointment enough.

He said: “I know many residents are angry with the decision and I can understand why. I still believe, as do many residents, that the decision of the committee is a retrograde step in the regeneration of Barry.

“My task now is to work with Natural Resources Wales and make sure they understand the objections and fears of residents, as clearly they have a significant part to play as they will grant the licence for the plant and monitor it, if it progresses."

Plaid spokesman, Barry Shaw said the local community did not welcome this industrial process coming to town.

He said: “The image that we want to give out is that we are an attractive, up and coming destination.

“The waste has to be disposed of somewhere. The applicants could not answer or had no idea where the wood was coming from and could not provide a route/traffic plan.”

Planning committee member, Cllr Nic Hodges, said: “Residents feel that their representatives let them down.

“I was shocked that an important document was quoted on the night regarding the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment. It was shameful that the committee had no prior knowledge about the letter from Welsh Government and could not properly consider the details.”

Residents objections to the proposal raised concerns over traffic, noise, stack appearance, proximity to residential properties, lack of information, wood types used, and health.

The previous Sunrise Renewables scheme, submitted in 2009, was rejected.