NATURAL Resources Wales (NRW) has announced that it has granted Biomass UK No 2 Ltd a permit to operate its ‘incinerator’ in Barry.

The organisation has said it is confident that the plant can operate “without damaging people’s health or the environment.”

The decision follows years of controversy with petitions and protests against the plant being launched by concerned residents.

The plant will convert waste wood into electricity through a process known as ‘gasification’.

Vale MP Alun Cairns said he was “not only disappointed, but also angry” with the decision.

He said: “One of the first things I did when elected as an MP was to give evidence at the planning inquiry against the application for an incinerator, only for this to be overruled by the Welsh Government.

“Now the Welsh Government have overruled the opinion of Barry residents.”

Vale AM Jane Hutt said the decision was “bitterly disappointing” and paid tribute to the work that has been carried out by the Docks Incinerator Action Group (DIAG).

She said: “The incinerator carries risks of toxic pollution, severe fire risk of woodchip storage, flood and storm surge.

“I do not concede that the DIAG campaign is over and I will continue to work with its members and to lobby the agencies with whom we have already established a dialogue.

“I will continue to strongly object to the granting of this permit, particularly while there remain a number of issues, including air quality assessment, noise assessment, fuel safety, fire safety, consultation process and failure to disclose information.”

l Continued on page 6 Barry and Vale Friends of the Earth coordinator, Keith Stockdale said: “It’s a dreadful decision after years’ long campaign.

“There has been so much opposition from the town.”

He added that he believed the Welsh Government could have “stepped in” and stopped the plans.

Plaid Cymru leader on Barry Town Council, Cllr Shirley Hodges said she was “fed up of crocodile tears from senior politicians” over the issue.

She said: “In 2015 Conservative and Labour party councillors voted for this outrage, with only Plaid Cymru voting against the planning application.

“The Welsh Government, of which Jane Hutt was a cabinet member, rejected an environmental impact assessment at that time.”

Dyfan ward Conservative councillor, Vince Bailey said: “This is hugely disappointing. We don’t want it, we’re not confident it’s going to be safe, and the way the whole process has been handled is enough to make you lose faith in politics.

“Time and time again we have called on the Welsh Labour Government to call this in because public concern is so high, yet it feels as though we’ve been ignored.”

NRW has said that Biomass has demonstrated that it can “meet all the legal, environmental, technological and health requirements of UK, Welsh and European law”, so there is no defensible grounds to refuse the permit.

Conditions will be set for appropriate legal limits for emissions from the facility, the types of material it can process, and how waste is stored.

Operations manager from Natural Resources Wales, Nadia De Longhi said: “Over the last 14 months our experts have thoroughly scrutinised every aspect of the company’s application and considered all representations made to us.

“We have also accepted advice from other experts outside of the organisation on important issues such as people’s health and fire prevention.

“We are confident that the company has all the right plans and processes in place to be able to operate this facility without damaging people’s health or the environment.

“The conditions we have set in the permit require it to operate to the Best Available Techniques (BAT). Once it starts operating, we will monitor activity at the site to make sure it continues to work within the agreed conditions of its permit.”

NRW’s decision relates solely to the environmental permit which is legally required for the facility to operate.

NRW does not have legal powers to consider issues such as the suitability of the location – this was considered when the company applied to the Vale of Glamorgan Council for planning permission.