WRONG place, wrong facility and wrong timing – the verdict of a waste management consultant on the proposed waste to energy plant at Portland Port.

One of the country’s top experts, Alan Potter, told the public inquiry into the planning refusal that Dorset alone was unlikely to be able to produce enough suitable waste for the proposed plant after a few years – which would mean importing rubbish from as far away as Cardiff.

He said the Powerfuel Portland Ltd model for their waste plant was too ambitious with it needing to maintain a set level of throughput over what could be a 40-year period to make it efficient.

Mr Potter predicted that, if the plant were to be allowed, it was likely to eventually need to compete for waste with other, similar facilities, leading to price competition and the risk that even recyclable material would end up being burnt to keep it operating at maximum efficiency.

He said it would also lead to more ‘waste miles’ as rubbish was moved around, potentially from over a three-hour distance away, to feed the plant.

Powerfuel dispute the conclusions and have produced their own figures to show that the waste to energy plant is not only viable, but needed. It claims that the £150 million development will produce an overall benefit to Dorset - with few negative effects.

Dorset Council’s reasons for refusing the application include the site not being an identified in the county’s waste plan, the impact on the landscape and the distances which waste would need to be carried to get to the site.

Dorset Echo: Portland incinerator protester Penny Quilter outside the  public inquiry

Said one section of the refusal notice: “The proposed development, as a result of its scale, massing and height… would have a significant adverse effect on the quality of the landscape and views of the iconic landform shape of the Isle of Portland within the setting of the Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Site, particularly when viewed from the South West Coast Path and across Portland Harbour.”

The company behind the project, Powerfuel Portland Ltd, claim their steps to minimise the impact of the Energy Recovery Facility will help it blend into the landscape while at the same time providing a useful facility which will help deal with Dorset’s waste and produce energy for the National Grid, something which none of the council-run site are able to achieve.

The building will be partly clad in mesh which will disguise its shape with camouflage-style finished surfaces.

It suggests the port location, where there are already many industrial buildings, will allow residual waste to be brought in both by land and by sea.

The company say the plant will produce enough electricity for the equivalent of around 30,000 homes and could be used to power visiting cruise liners, an increasing business for the port, allowing them to switch off their diesel engine while at berth.

The company say it will also create 300 direct jobs and 250 indirect jobs during construction, with around 35 full time jobs and 60 indirect jobs once built.

The company says that for Dorset it would dispose of between 183,000 and 202,000 tonnes of waste each year, potentially producing 15MW of power and also providing an incentive for new businesses to move to the area.

Planning consultant Tim Hancock claimed at the time that Dorset Council has failed to deliver a credible waste strategy with much of the rubbish the area produced being exported to a waste to energy plant at Marchwood near Southampton and to a similar facility near Heathrow airport, with some of the remainder being sent abroad.

Mr Hancock said the plant would comply with all the relevant national policies and its benefits, including producing power for cruise liners and the prisons, would outweigh the slight harm to the landscape and sites of heritage interest.

The site is not within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or the World Heritage Site.

The inquiry is expected to continue daily from 9.30am, with the exception on next Monday. Thursday evening, from 6pm, has been set aside for public statements with 60 asking to speak.