A PUBLIC inquiry into the Vale Council planning committee’s decision to refuse planning permission for a wood fuelled renewable energy plant got under way this week in Barry.

Opponents of the Sunrise Renewables Limited scheme to build a 9MW plant and industrial building on dock land at Woodham Road gave evidence to defend the decision at the Dock Office.

The inquiry, which opened on Tuesday, is due to conclude hearing evidence today (June 10).

As we went to print, it had heard representations from the Vale Council, Barry & Vale Friends of the Earth, Sunrise Renewables Ltd, councillors, and local residents.

Planning Inspectorate chairman Anthony Thickett said he had received 83 letters objecting to the proposals, with five letters in favour.

Vale MP Alun Cairns was due to address the meeting today (Thursday).

Vale AM Jane Hutt said she had written to the Planning Inspectorate voicing her objection. Giving evidence, on day one, Vale Council principal planning officer (enforcement and appeals), Justina Walsh admitted, under cross examination, that the authority had a 'reactive rather than a proactive approach' to waste management.

She also confirmed the authority had sought a Section 106 agreement requiring the company to fund a £7,500 on-site piece of public art.

Sunrise was also asked to provide £10,000 towards a new illuminated bus shelter, costing almost £16,000, near the Dock Offices that the Vale claimed would enable the plant’s 25 employees to commute without using cars.

Ms Walsh said the Vale Council’s planning committee, who opposed the council officers' recommendations to approve, felt noise, traffic and pollution associated with the plant would affect nearby residents.

She also said it would have an adverse impact on the Barry Waterfront’s future development and the council’s aspirations to secure a high quality scheme.

She said the estimated 11 HGV lorries visiting the site per day would produce noise from reversing alarms and increased traffic would have an adverse effect on Cardiff Road – a route already considered to have unacceptable levels.

She added the Council was keen to secure a quality mix of retail, leisure, cafes and bars for the final phase of the Waterfront.

Cross-examining Ms Walsh on behalf of Sunrise Renewables, David Manley QC told her he thought she was doing an 'heroic job' in defending the planning committee’s decision.

He said: "The local authority has not objected to this planning application and they have not objected to the appeal.

"You have set out all these policies and done really well.

"According to Planning Policy Wales, there is an expectation that Local Authorities strive to be self-sufficient in relation to waste." Speaking after the session, Castleland Street residents Valerie Saunders and Joan Lake said they felt they weren’t going to have much say.

Joan said: "I’m concerned about the dioxins and the waste that’s going to accompany the ash.

"Health and safety is an important issue. "I am very concerned about Ty Hafan and the air pollution that’s going over there.

"Sunrise hasn’t given the public enough information from the start."

The Inquiry continues today with the Planning Inspectorate’s decision due at a later date.