HAMPSHIRE County Council officers have recommended that councillors grant planning permission for a fiercely- contested waste incinerator in the rural Wey Valley at Alton.

Veolia’s plan for an ‘energy recovery facility’ is set to be determined by the council’s regulatory committee in Winchester next Wednesday.

County planning officers published their report to councillors on Tuesday, recommending permission be granted “subject to confirmation that the secretary of state does not intend to call in the application for determination”.

The report – signed off by Hampshire’s assistant director of waste, planning and the environment James Potter, a Veolia materials recovery and recycling general manager from 2006 to 2008 – acknowledges the “complex” application has “attracted considerable public interest”.

Veolia’s proposal has been through four public consultations and provoked more than 5,500 objections from residents, businesses, two MPs, three district and borough councils, two town councils and 19 parish councils.

CPRE Hampshire, the South Downs National Park Authority and Historic England also objected – as did Hampshire County Council’s landscape department.

But the report states the proposal will “allow residual waste, which cannot be reused or recycled, to be managed at the most reasonable level of the waste hierarchy, diverting it from landfill”.

Veolia also claims it will generate 30 megawatts of energy.

The area around the site, recently toured by the committee, is designated as ‘valued landscape’ and protected by national planning policy.

Officers conceded “not all impacts, such as visual impacts of the development, can be fully mitigated”.

A spokesman for campaign group No Wey Incinerator said: “This application has already been referred to the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government to use his powers to ‘call in’ the application because it involves issues of more than local 

“If the regulatory committee approves the application, then the final decision will be made by the secretary of state.

“Hampshire County Council has confirmed it will not formally approve Veolia’s planning application until the secretary of state has had an opportunity to consider and respond to our request.”