MORE than 2,000 people have signed a petition against plans for a waste incinerator in the open countryside.

It comes after residents of Barton Stacey and the surrounding areas were given the chance to quiz US firm Wheelabrator on its waste-to-energy facility on vacant land owned by Raymond Brown near the A303, just over a mile west of Bullington Cross.

The business says that it will be able to process 450,000 tonnes of waste a year which will power around 110,000 homes.

The petition, on website, already has 2,400 signatures and says: “Proposals for a giant incinerator at Barton Stacey are half-baked - if it were to go ahead it would clog major roads, become a blot on the landscape, and have an erosive impact on the natural environment.

“[Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy] Greg Clark should not provide the ‘Development Consent Order’ that would allow the plant to go ahead.”

Gavin Lockhart-Mirams, who started the petition, added: “Like tens of thousands of others, my family lives within a few miles of Barton Stacey. Our children go to local schools, and we rely on visitors to the area for our livelihoods.

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“Of course, everyone thinks they live somewhere special. But for those who have not yet walked in the countryside or visited our vibrant towns and cities, north west Hampshire has a wonderful charm. The area combines the rural, unspoilt character of river valley meadows with ancient woodland that provides a rich habitat for a range of animals, plants and trees.

“The Barton Stacey Incinerator might create 50 new full-time jobs but the impact on our countryside and the cloying effect on the infrastructure our families rely on means that it should not be granted planning permission.”

Other residents have also come together to fight the plan. Andy Joliffe, who is spearheading the campaign, said: “This proposition here, the scale of what they are trying to build is not in-keeping with the rural environment, I don’t think people appreciate how big it is going to be.”

According to Mr Joliffe, Winchester Cathedral could sit inside the incinerator twice.

Mr Joliffe said that he hopes the company will listen to peoples’ concerns, but the community is already rallying against the scheme.

Concerns were expressed about traffic coming through the village of Longparish if an accident were to occur on the A303, but the company has insisted that lorries will not be diverted there.

“They [Wheelabrator] don’t seem to be able to explain where the waste is coming from or why. I think it should be close to where you are getting it from,” Longparish parish councillor Christian Dryden added.

And Longparish resident John Young said: “The size of the thing is a problem, the main thing is a 300-high foot chimney which we will be able to see from our house.”

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People also expressed fears about the environmental impact that the facility will have.

Resident Clare Sykes said she was “disappointed” with the plan. “Everything from an environmental point of view, lighting pollution, noise pollution. One of my biggest concerns is wildlife, the children go to a wildlife club right next door.

“From our children’s point of view it is what they are going to have to live with in the future.”

During the consultation, children from Longparish Primary School attended the event as part of an environment project.

Laura Harding said: “My son is going to be here a lot longer than I am, further down the line it is going to have an impact on them.

“I think the sad part about it, we don’t feel they are being honest. They have sugar-coated things. No-one at the consultation convinced me that it is going to be of any benefit to us. It is a monstrosity of a building.”

Wheelabrator said that it is in the early stages of the planning process and “we will prepare a comprehensive environmental impact assessment that will look at a wide range of environmental factors”.

A spokesperson said it will take into account views from the public: “The feedback will help us in shaping our thinking. Later this year we will be running a second stage of consultation where we will present our project in detail.

“This will be a further opportunity for people to have their say on our proposal and we will then consider feedback before we submit our application towards the end of 2019.

“We’re very grateful to everybody who has taken the time to offer feedback and would like to thank everybody who came to our public events. We’ll continue to listen to the views of the local community.”