PROTESTORS against the incinerator on Portland and an oil well near Puddletown filled the public gallery at this week’s Dorset Council meeting.

Public transport activists and campaigners against poverty were also at the meeting – with some of them asking councillors for action.

To each the council gave a pre-prepared, often wordy, but always measured and polite explanation of what the authority might, or might not do – but for most the simple summary was ‘we’ll deal with it later after further consideration.’

On the Portland energy from waste incinerator proposal Cabinet spokesman Cllr Tony Alford said the council would deal with any planning application when it is submitted – along with its accompanying environmental statement.

“Managing waste thorough energy from waste facilities should support, not compete with, increased diversion from landfill and increased recycling,” he said.

Professor Tony Walter, from Portland, had argued that waste incinerators often simply diverted waste from recycling, reducing local recycling rates.

Kira Robinson from Extinction Rebellion questioned the need for an oil well at Puddletown and asked the council to reject it, in line with its climate change policies.

She was told by planning cabinet brief holder Cllr David Walsh that the application would, in reality, be decided by national policies which the council was unable to change: “Dorset Council is not in a position to refuse planning permission for oil and gas development on climate grounds. Furthermore, it is unlikely that Dorset Council would be able to change its local policies to resist hydrocarbon development on climate change grounds unless and until there is a change in national policy,” he said.

Professor Philip Marfleet and Jenny Lennon-Wood called for more action from the council on low pay, especially in South Dorset, asking it to adopt the national minimum wage for its lowest paid workers.

Cabinet spokesman Cllr Gary Suttle said the proposals were under consideration with a draft economic growth strategy to be presented in the spring.

Other questioners dealt with more support for public transport, especially the No6 service in the Beaminster and Bridport area which is due to end in the spring, and the need for the council to set up a Local Access Forum, which it is legally required to do.

Councillors responded to say that both matters would be considered and, if possible, dealt with as soon as they were able to.