LOCAL councillors, from all parties, and MP Richard Drax have been universal in their condemnation of the Portland energy from waste proposals.

In submissions to the public inquiry, currently taking place over Dorset Council’s refusal of the planning application for the site, each has argued that Portland Port is the wrong location.

South Dorset MP Richard Drax says in a statement that while he supports the efforts Portland Port has made to boost the local economy he is unable to support this project.

“The very tall stack will dominate the skyline … while I am confident that the emissions will meet stringent regulations, there is no doubt that the air quality immediately around the plant will be more polluted that would otherwise be the case. – southerly, south-easterly or easterly winds would affect Weymouth and Portland,” said the MP.

His statement also claims that Portland residents often feel “dumped upon”, adding: “While I can see that the ERF will provide energy to the national grid, and help the port provide power to visiting cruise ships, I cannot see a solid, long-term benefit for islanders…. What I and many do not want to see is another imposition on the island in what, in effect, is a blot on the landscape. It’s just the wrong location.”

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Portland Dorset Council ward councillor Paul Kimber, the authority’s only Labour member, listed noise and disturbance to residents and increased traffic – which he said was almost certain to lead to queues on the Beach Road during construction, with no hope of a Wyke Regis bypass.

“The Jurassic Coastline around Portland is unique, and must be protected. This includes green areas on the Verne Common. With a major increase in traffic movements and HGV traffic through our conservation and residential areas this would be a negative impact on our communities. I already have major concerns personally about the fumes and exhaust fumes.”

Cllr Kimber also raised the risk of emissions from the incinerator stack directly affecting homes around Verne Common and The Grove as well as the prison and cited possible harmful effects on historic buildings in the area.

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Green Party councillor Brian Heatley said it was not uncommon for the prevailing South Westerly winds to shift which could see the plume from the chimney blown over his ward of Rodwell and Wyke.

Said Cllr Heatley: “I find the applicant’s reassurances about the concentration of pollutants and their limited health effects unconvincing. They are assuming that the feedstock for the plant will never contain something noxious they are not expecting, and that the plant will never go wrong. We need to take a precautionary approach.

“This plant will be visible from Rodwell and Wyke, and will represent an incongruous and ugly blot on the landscape, spoiling the setting of the World Heritage Jurassic Coast… the assessment of the potential effects of material from the chimney falling into the Fleet (an Internationally designated wetland site) and the seas surrounding Portland, including Weymouth Bay, is extremely complacent. Much of the local marine ecology is only poorly understood, but dumping huge quantities of novel materials into it is bound to have significant effects that have simply not been adequately explored.”

He also questioned the applicant’s calculation of an increase in traffic flows of only 1per cent from the extra 80 HGVs per day, claiming that when the size of the vehicles was taken into account the increase would be more like 50%: “That is not negligible, that is substantial, and unacceptable,” he said… “An increase of more than 50% in HGV traffic has a substantial environmental impact, and no opportunities for mitigating that effect have been identified.”

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Similar views were expressed in a statement by fellow ward councillor and Green Party leader on Dorset Council, Cllr Clare Sutton.

She described the argument about the risk of Portland losing cruise ships without power hook-ups as ‘bizarre.’

“Fundamentally, the first requirement for a cruise ship destination is that it offers an attractive tourist stop, which we manifestly are! The real danger is that we undermine that by doing significant damage to our main attraction, our beautiful World Heritage Coast. If you were a cruise ship passenger greeted on arrival by a massive waste incinerator, what would you say on ‘Trip Advisor’?.” she said.

Portland independent councillor Rob Hughes added his voice to the objections of other local councillors claiming that families living within 1km of the stack would be seriously affected by any emissions in addition to the extra fumes from lorries and other vehicles going in and out of the site.

Cllr Hughes’ statement also cited the adverse effect of the development on the Underhill Conservation area and heritage assets of the area and the effect on several Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

“Dorset Council, Portland Town Council and Weymouth Council have all declared a climate and ecological emergency….  Environmentally this site will be releasing 577 tons of C02 a day into the atmosphere along with mercury and other pollutants which will have effect on the residents, local marine life, shellfish and local fishing and aquaculture businesses. Light pollution is also a concern,” said Cllr Hughes.

In a separate statement he dealt with his concerns for the marine environment because of the incinerator.