RESIDENTS are gearing up to fight plans for a waste incinerator near Barton Stacey in response to illustrations showing its “ridiculous” size.

US firm Wheelabrator has applied to build a waste-to-energy facility on vacant land owned by Raymond Brown near the A303, just over a mile west of Bullington Cross.

It was previously reported that more than 2,000 people had signed a petition against the plans after quizzing the company, who claim it will be able to process 450,000 tonnes of waste a year, providing power to around 110,000 homes.

Now, residents have formed the ‘Keep Test Valley Beautiful’ action group against the facility that could be seen from up to 18 miles away when built.

Andy Jolliffe, a resident from Longparish who is spearheading the campaign, said: “In terms of scale and visibility from St Catherine’s Hill, I think even from the drawings and images available from Wheelabrator, it’s really difficult to appreciate the sheer scale of what’s being planned.

“The plans show it would be nearly the same size as Battersea Power Station, but not quite as wide, which is just absolutely ridiculous.

“Hampshire already has three waste stations, and if it was necessary to build another this big, why in the countryside?”

Mr Jolliffe believes the planning process is still in its ‘early days’, and that it could take more than 18 months to come to a conclusion.

He continued: “For now, it’s about spreading awareness and driving the public following. We don’t want to do anything that could damage our image for the future.

“Our campaign has come together now out of the Facebook group I set up a while back, and there is about a dozen of us at the core of the group.

“We are looking to build on the scientific, less emotional approach to the situation. Our last meeting in Longparish Village hall saw over 50 people attend, and since I’ve had over 100 people putting themselves forward to help in any way possible - even if that means they’ll be stuffing envelopes.”

He added: “A lot of clever people have offered to help, including environmental scientists, and even people willing to help with legal action. But we don’t have anything to take legal action against yet.”

Additional traffic is also a concern, after Wheelabrator announced that around 140 trucks will travel to and from the incinerator every day.

The petition, on website, now has nearly 2,500 signatures.

Proposals for the incinerator qualify as National Infrastructure Planning, meaning an ultimate decision will be made by Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark.

Local authorities can only act as consultants, and both Hampshire County Council and Test Valley Borough Council have submitted a scoping report.

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 account of 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.”