A LETTER setting out the Welsh Government's reasons for a proposed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) into the Barry Docks 'incinerator' suggests their investigation could be much more far-reaching than first thought.

Welsh Government environment secretary Hannah Blythyn announced last week that she was 'minded' to direct an assessment be carried out on the facility, but would not divulge the reasons given to the developer publicly.

A copy of the letter, addressed from the department for energy, planning and rural affairs to the plant's developers, Biomass UK No. 2 Ltd, was published on the Vale of Glamorgan Council website earlier today (February 23).

While it was initially thought that the scope of the EIA, if one is carried out, would be limited to Biomass UK's ongoing planning application for fire prevention water tanks and revisions to the car park, the reasons set out in the letter appear to suggest that the plant may have to be assessed in its entirety.

The letter sets out that the development would fall under category 10 of EIA regulations, which state that such an assessment should be carried out for: "waste disposal installations for the incineration or chemical treatment ... of non‑hazardous waste with a capacity exceeding 100 tonnes per day."

Biomass intend to remove ash residue off-site, which the letter confirms is considered by the Welsh Government as a form of waste disposal. They have also determined that the planned process for producing energy would constitute incineration, and have confirmed that on average, the plant is likely to process around 197 tonnes of waste on a daily basis.

The letter concludes: "In summary, the characteristics of the development include waste recovery involving a physio-chemical process with subsequent incineration of the resulting compound. The capacity of the operation exceeds 100 tonnes a day. I am minded to conclude it is EIA development."

A Welsh Government spokesman appeared to confirm that the whole plant would be taken into consideration, saying: "The scope of any Environmental Impact Assessment will be a matter for the developer and Vale of Glamorgan Council.

"In accordance with the requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Wales) Regulations 2017 it will include a description of the likely significant effects of the proposed development on the environment."

A spokesman for the Docks Incinerator Action Group (DIAG) said they welcomed the Welsh Government's intervention.

"DIAG welcomes the intervention by Lesley Griffiths AM and Hannah Blythyn AM and commends their analysis of the legal position with this development.

"As DIAG has highlighted important deficiencies in the documentation relied upon by the applicant, it is clear that any response will have to address the legal requirements only. These have been set out by the ministers and DIAG is firmly of the view that the applicant cannot gainsay what is in the letter.

"This will be a test for the applicant to see if their profits trump our health."

Biomass UK have until March 7 to issue a response to the points set out by the Welsh Government.