RESIDENTS had the chance to learn about Veolia’s proposed advanced energy recovery facility last week as a public consultation got under way at Alton Community Centre.

Set to replace the Alton material recovery facility on the A31 at Froyle, the plan has proved controversial for some people who feel it would be too big for a rural location.

Others are concerned that the technology, which effectively burns household waste that can’t be recycled, is bad for the environment.

But Richard Kirkman, Veolia’s chief technology and innovation officer, told the Herald that compared to putting material into landfill, the facility offers a “huge environmental benefit”.

Not only does it reduce methane emissions from buried waste breaking down, it generates energy that would otherwise come from a regular coal-fired power station.

Mr Kirkman said it was “much better” to burn most non-recyclable waste than to bury it.

Objectors fear that with 80-metre chimneys the facility will dominate the landscape.

Mr Kirkman insisted it will be sympathetically designed and believes “it’s the right size for that site”.

As for concerns about an increase in lorry movements, he said the A31 has “18,000 movements” a day. The facility would add “44 in and out”.

With the facility operating 24/7, some residents are concerned about the impact it will have at night.

But Mr Kirkman said: “There will be no noise, there will be no odour, there will be no light pollution.”

If permission is secured, it will take two to three years to build the facility.

Similar events were held in Bentley and Froyle this week.