PORTLAND residents have made their voices clear – your £150 million incinerator was not invited and is not welcome here.

Dozens spoke at a Thursday evening session of the public inquiry into the Dorset Council refusal of the waste to energy plant.

Fears were voiced about pollution, both from the plant and the extra lorries needed to feed it; over the risk of particulates from the incinerator falling into the harbour, Fleet and open sea and the damage having an incinerator might cause to local tourism businesses and the jobs which relied on the industry.

Finn, the ten year old son of Olympic sailor, Laura Baldwin, who lives locally, came to the hearing straight from football practice to tell Powerfuel that if they were so keen on an incinerator why didn’t they build it on their own doorstep. He also told the inspector was a special place with species not found anywhere else in the world.

Some of the loudest applause of the evening was reserved for his words.

There was criticism during the hearing of Portland Port and of the power imbalance at the inquiry with Powerfuel able to afford a team of highly paid legal and other experts, including a King’s Counsel, while residents, with no special expertise, had to try and fight their corner.

One told the inspector, Paul Griffiths, that some local people were appalled by what was claimed as the bullying attitude of a Powerfuel barrister during a five-hour cross examination of a Dorset Council expert.

“This is not how we on Portland do things – but we do welcome businesses which consult and are accountable and open. We do not take kindly to external influences deciding what happens on the island,” said university lecturer Tony Walter.

The point was almost immediately taken up by another resident, who claimed that the whole attitude to witnesses had been one of “nit-picking intimidation”.

Penny Quilter told the inspector that it was apparent that a considerable amount of money was being spent on trying to achieve what Portland did not want.

“It’s bully boy tactics. It feels like a trial, but it’s not a trial,” she said.

The inspector apologised for the adversarial nature of appeal inquiry but said he saw no bullying and the council expert had been more than able to hold his own: “It’s just the nature of these things,” he said.

Among the other speakers he heard was Kathryn Pearce who said the incinerator would present an “insidious and invisible risk’ to the health of local people with plenty of occasions when sea mists, fogs and easterly winds would keep the outpourings from the chimney local, rather than blow it away – the 80-metre chimney lower than some nearby homes.

“Why can’t Portland Port use wind turbines. They’re not pretty but at least they are clean,” she said, adding: “Is the greed of man more important than our safety?”

Swanage councillor Avril Harris was also worried about material coming out of the chimney – she said that with a predominant south westerly wind anything coming out of the chimney would be heading straight to her town and the Purbecks.

A former worker at the Verne she said she often saw mists and fog which trapped whatever was in the atmosphere on Portland, often for a day or more at a time.

Similar points were made by Olympic sailor and local resident Laura Baldwin who was also concerned that the plant, if allowed on appeal, would be detrimental to young sailors coming to train at the Sailing Academy. She said it could force some to look elsewhere and might also affect longer term plans for further development at the Academy.

She said she could not conceive how the plan to bring the waste to energy plant to Portland came about at a time when the world focus was on reducing carbon and protecting the planet.

“Incinerators are seen as a symbol of the destructive profit-driven system,” she said – pointing to the level of protest there has been on the island against it with petitions and marches.

Other speakers, including Hilary Breakwell, said they were worried about the 24/7 constant humming noise the plant was likely to produce together with the noise and fumes from dozens of lorries each day – together with the night-time permanent lighting and its effect on wildlife – points which she said had been under-played by Powerfuel.

Dr Tony Dobbs said that siting the plant so close to the cliff would cause turbulence and downwash from the chimney. He also questioned the accuracy of weather data being used by the company and claimed that to keep the plant operating it would need a massive lorry every nine minutes.

Dr Dobbs said he was also wary that planning rules would be adequate to control activities on the site.

“The only safe precautionary action is to uphold the Dorset Council decision and refuse the appeal,” he said.

Powerfuel have said throughout the inquiry and in their original planning submission that the plant will fully comply with all the UK health and safety rules, including emissions from the chimney stack.