THE ENVIRONMENT Agency is consulting residents over controversial plans for a waste incinerator on Portland due to the level of public interest in the proposal.

As reported, Powerfuel Portland wants to build a £100 million Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) at Portland Port in order to burn up to 202,000 tonnes of non-hazardous waste each year to convert to energy to be exported to the National Grid or used locally.

A public consultation has already been held as part of the Planning application for the proposed facility - but there is nowa second opportunity to register a comment, in a separate consultation being run by the Environment Agency (EA.)

The EA announced the consultation in June but has recently updated its information to reflect that the proposed facility is classed as a 'partially renewable' energy source under Government policy - rather than a source of renewable energy as previously stated.

Other changes to the wording include the addition of 'significant' in the phrase; 'if granted, a permit allows us to regulate the site... in order to not give rise to significant pollution of the environment or harm to human health.

Here are some FAQs about the consultation and how you can take part:

I have already registered a comment objecting to/in favour of the incinerator - why am I being asked to comment again?

The Environment Agency said it is treating the site as a Site of High Public Interest. This means the EA is consulting on the environmental permit application due to the amount of public interest that has already been shown.

The earlier public consultation, run by Dorset Council, was part of the Planning application for the facility. The Planning system deals with issues such as land use, whether a facility is needed; amount of waste generated, operating hours, visual and traffic impact - amongst others. The Environment Agency consultation will form part of the Government department's assessment of terms and conditions of the environmental permit which Powerfuel will need in order to operate the incinerator, if it is built.

What is the difference between this new Environmental Permit survey and the earlier Planning survey?

An environmental permit covers the management and operation of the site and the control and monitoring of emissions.

If planning permission is granted a company can build a facility but cannot operate the site without an environmental permit.

"When we consider a permit application we review the design of the proposed plant, how it will be operated, the emissions it will generate (to air, water and land) and whether it will have an adverse impact on people living nearby and the natural environment," an Environment Agency spokesman said. "We set permit conditions to limit these."

The Environmental Permitting Regulations address the design and operation of the process to prevent significant pollution and minimise impacts on the environment and human health.

What else can the Environment Agency do to ensure the facility is safe?

For this application the EA will consult professional partners, such as Public Health England, to advise on potential health impacts, as well as Natural England and Dorset Council. They will also refer to the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and the emissions limits set to protect human health, and the competence of the operator to run the facility.

What will Powerfuel Portland need to do to be granted a permit?

The company will need to demonstrate they are putting in place the necessary measures to meet current standards to protect human health and the environment.

A permit application is normally accompanied by a summary of how the company intends to protect the health of people and the wider environment. It has to explain the measures they will take to control risks. The company must also show how it will prevent fires within the waste held on site.

What issues can I comment on?

The Environment Agency has specified a range of topics that form part of its public consultation, relating to the environmental permit.

These include:

  • General operational management of the site and the control of environmental risks
  • Measures being proposed to control emissions, including particulate emissions, odour, dust, noise and other forms of pollution
  • Monitoring of emissions to the environment as set out by the Industrial Emissions Directive
  • The handling and storage of waste
  • Potential impacts on public health and the local environment
  • Any relevant factors which the local community believes have not been considered by the operator

I'm concerned about traffic. Can I comment on this?

The EA can only accept comments on a specific range of issues relating to the environmental permit. Therefore, the following cannot be taken into consideration as part of the current consultation:

  • Alternative locations for the proposed facility
  • The transport of waste to and from the site, and the impact this might have on the local road network
  • Operating hours (loading and unloading).
  • Whether the limits set by the Industrial Emissions Directive adequately protect health
  • Issues covered by national government policy, such as the waste hierarchy or disposal of plastics

How can I find out more and comment on the consultation?

You can view the permit application and supporting documents at

Comments can be submitted in a number of ways:

  • Paper copies are available at Weymouth library and Portland library
  • By post: Environment Agency Permitting and Support Centre, Land Team, Quadrant 2, 99 Parkway Avenue, Sheffield, S9 4WF.
  • Call 03706 506 506 if you cannot access the library documents or the online consultation

The deadline to respond is 5pm, September 3 2021.