PORTLAND Port bosses have stressed the construction of a multi-million pound waste incinerator is ‘vital to port’s future’.

The CEO of Portland Port, Bill Reeves, has declared his support for an application, proposed by Powerfuel, to build a £100 million Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) at the port.

The controversial plans have already been opposed to by Weymouth and Portland town councils and a petition to prevent the incinerator from being constructed by campaign group Stop Portland Waste Incinerator has had more than 6,000 signatures.

Bill Reeves, CEO of Portland Port, thinks that having the facility on site will maintain the port’s competitiveness, secure its viability for decades to come, protect existing jobs and bring new jobs to the area.

He said: “The Port invited Powerfuel in to look at this project because we already had planning permission for a power station here, but the previous developer had failed to secure funding.

“The site is suitable for a power station development, which will safeguard the port’s business now and in the future.

"Cruise lines who are keen to demonstrate their environmental credentials will, in the next five to 10 years, get to a point where they demand that any port that takes their visits provides shore power.

“About 30 per cent of the world’s cruise liners are currently shore power enabled and all new cruise ships are shore power enabled.

“In addition to the cruise liners calling at the port, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) is a major customer and all their ships are shore power enabled. The RFA would like to be able to take shore power whilst at berth at the port.”

Many of those in opposition to the application have cited potential damage to the tourism industry as the reason they do not want the plans to be approved.

Mr Reeves, however, thinks that rejecting the application will also be damaging to the tourism industry despite concerns.

He said: “If Portland Port cannot provide shore power, we risk losing the cruise line business and all the tourist spend that the local area benefits from.

"In addition to providing the electrical headroom for the Port and its tenants, it will also be able to provide District Heating, using its waste heat, to the Port’s tenants, the Port itself and to other businesses and people living nearby."

Residents and councillors have also raised concerns about potential emissions coming from the plant - concerns Mr Reeves does not share.

He said: “I don’t have any concerns about emissions from the power station.

"I have lived and worked on the island for the last six years, and I intend to live and work on this island for a number of years to come.

"If I thought there was any risk to human health or the environment from this power station, I would not support the project.

"I trust our regulators, and our regulators are charged with protecting human health and the environment. I think they do a good job, and they’ll do a good job here.

“Building the power station is vital to this Port’s future.

"We must be able to provide shore power in the next 5-10 years and we also need the additional electrical power capacity to enable our current tenants to expand and to attract new tenants and jobs.”