THE controversial Biomass UK No.2 incinerator plant in Barry Docks has now progressed onto it's next phase, the Vale of Glamorgan Council has confirmed.

A statement issued by the council on Friday, March 16 announced that the first phase of the development's pre-commissioning was now complete, and that environmental regulation would now fall under the jurisdiction of Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

The council had previously said the plant was now "fully operational," however they have since confirmed this is not the case.

They also reiterated that black smoke seen coming from the plant over the past several weeks was not harmful to residents or the environment, adding it was caused by a diesel generator necessary to carry out the steam-cleaning phase. The council added that this would not be part of normal operations.

Regarding what guise the next phase of readying the plant for operations would take, the council said: "The site is now moving on to the next stage of commissioning at the plant.

"This will involve increasing the steam pressure using the diesel burners and passing the high pressure steam through the turbine bypass to the condensers in preparation to start the turbine for electricity generation tests.

"The increased heat input may increase the main stack plume density under certain weather conditions, but this is normal and emissions will still be well within safe levels.

"After this work is complete, steam turbine and generator testing will be undertaken during week commencing Monday 19 March 2018. This is not expected to result in noticeable noise, although the stack plume may be present.

"After this testing is completed, we understand there will be a long period of plant preparation and testing ahead of first waste wood firing.

"Further details of what to expect will be provided ahead of this final commissioning phase."

The council also confirmed that while they will still be responsible for monitoring issues such as noise and light pollution, any issues relating to operation of the plant would now fall under NRW's remit.

Biomass UK No.2 are still awaiting the outcome of a planning application – relating to water tanks that have already been installed on the site – which is due to go before the Vale council planning committee in the near future.

The Welsh Government recently announced that they were "minded" to direct an Environmental Impact Assessment be carried out with regards to the application, however this is yet to be formally confirmed.