THE company behind plans to build a waste-to-energy incinerator has announced it will “no longer proceed” with the project.

US firm Wheelabrator had proposed building the massive facility on land just north of the A303, near Barton Stacey.

The plans were met with widespread opposition, as campaigners branded the proposed facility a "monstrosity" and a "blight" on the Test Valley countryside.

And now organisers say they will be pulling out of the controversial scheme after conducting a "strategic review".

Commenting on the decision, Wheelabrator Technologies vice president for business development, Paul Green, said: “The UK waste-to-energy market is extremely buoyant with significant capacity gaps remaining in the residual waste management infrastructure. Wheelabrator is well-placed to address this capacity gap and provide sustainable waste management solutions with a number of live projects across the UK. Having undertaken a strategic review of the wide range of opportunities in our current pipeline, we have decided to focus our efforts on further advanced waste-to-energy projects, and as such, will no longer continue to invest in the development of the Wheelabrator Harewood waste-to-energy facility.

“Wheelabrator would like to thank everyone who took the time to provide feedback as part of our recent community consultations.”

The plan was heavily criticised by residents living in Barton Stacey and Longparish, the two villages which would have been most affected, as well as people living further afield. Many raised concerns about the size of the incinerator and the harmful effects on the environment.

Andy Jolliffe, a resident from Longparish who spearheaded the campaign, previously 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?”

MP for Winchester Steve Brine, who has previously spoken of his opposition to the scheme, said: “I was delighted to hear this morning that Wheelabrator have decided to cancel this project, which would have been a real blight on this area of the Hampshire countryside, and hopefully that’s the last we’ll hear of it.  Congratulations to all the campaigners involved in raising awareness of the plans.”

The company has said that it is "remains committed to developing, delivering and operating waste-to-energy facilities capable of diverting residual waste from landfill, preventing the need for export of waste to Europe, reducing greenhouse gases, recycling metals that would otherwise go to landfill and generating clean, renewable baseload energy".

More to follow.