Building a waste incinerator in Wisbech would be a “catastrophe” for the town, campaigners have said.

Representatives of the group, Wisbech Without Incineration, highlighted some of their concerns to councillors, over air pollution and the potential loss of jobs if the plans for the new incinerator go ahead.

The ‘Medworth Energy from Waste Combined Heat and Power Facility’ is proposed to be built by Medworth CHP Limited on land on the Algores Way Industrial Estate.

The facility would burn household waste to generate electricity. The proposed site would be capable of handling up to 625,600 tonnes of waste per year, aiming to generate up to 55MWe of electricity and up to 50MWth of usable steam energy.

A Development Consent Order application has been made to request approval to build the new facility.

Campaigners raised some of their concerns to councillors at a meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Environment and Green Investment Committee yesterday (Thursday, October 13).

A representative of the campaign group Wisbech Without Incineration said they had been told by food factories in the town that they would have to close if the incinerator was built, which they said would be a “catastrophe” for the town.

They also raised concerns over potential air pollution and the impact the size of the facility could have on the surrounding area, stating “the proposed chimneys will be higher than Ely cathedral”.

The ward councillor for the area, Councillor Steve Tierney, also shared his concerns about the potential incinerator.

He said: “It is gigantic, it will cast a black shadow over the entire town, the idea that it won’t have a visual impact is laughable. It will have a permanent visual impact forever on a town that has challenges and does not deserve this.”

Councillor Catherine Rae said campaigners had presented the argument to not build the incinerator on the Wisbech site “very articulately”.

She also raised concerns about the type of facility being proposed, explaining that burning household waste was only considered better due to it avoiding the methane produced by food and organic waste produced when it breaks down.

Cllr Rae said: “It encourages people to create more waste rather than addressing the problem of why organic waste is in household waste.

“We should be addressing the real problem of recycling our waste and excluding food waste from black bins.”

County council technical officers presented councillors with a draft response to the plans raising key concerns about the plans at this stage, including around traffic and biodiversity.

Officers explained to councillors at the meeting that the proposed response had to relate to the technical details and not be political.

They added that discussions continued with partners, including heritage officers at Fenland District Council, and that the response will continue to be developed.

Officers also said councillors and other people impacted by the plans could register as an interested party with the planning inspectorate in order to be able to comment and have their views considered.

The deadline for registering as an interested party is Tuesday, November 15.

Chair of the committee, Councillor Lorna Dupré, highlighted that this was the first of three submissions the county council would be making.