A PUBLIC consultation has been launched on controversial plans for an advanced energy recovery facility on the A31.

Energy firm Veolia said the proposed expansion of its centre in Froyle will help reduce the UK’s carbon footprint while keeping waste out of landfill.

But objectors believe the facility would be too big for such a rural location.

The Alton Material Recycling Facility currently sorts through recyclable household waste, operating around five days a week.

However, the proposed facility could run 24/7. And as the site is near the South Downs National Park, concerns have been raised about light and noise pollution.

Using the “latest clean technology”, Veolia said the new facility would annually process 330,000 tons of waste that can not be recycled and burn it to create enough electricity to power 75,000 homes.

Compared with landfill this would “save 65,000 tons of carbon emissions”, equal to “taking 28,000 cars a year off the road”.

The project would also create 350 jobs during construction and 40-45 permanent roles.

A report published last year revealed the new facility could be far larger than the current centre.

At its highest point “the building would be approximately 50m above ground level”. However, it is the height of the chimneys that have caused the most concern.

At “approximately 90m” these could be more than twice the height of nearby pylons.

Froyle, Binsted and Bentley parish councils all expressed serious concerns about the scale and location of the facility.

Binsted resident Mark Weldon can see the current centre from his house and expects a campaign to resist its expansion.

He told the Herald: “Veolia have never done any of the screening they promised, and it is clearly visible by day.

“At night it is often lit up. We can hear heavy vehicles reversing.

“We accept that Veolia has a job to do and the current building (16m high) is just acceptable. But, the proposed facility is of a totally different magnitude.

“The new building will be three times higher. The chimneys are the same height as a football pitch on its end and will be continuously illuminated at night.

“The heavy industrial site will be seen day and night for miles around, including from the South Downs National Park.”

Consultation events will be held 4.30pm to 8pm today (Wednesday, March 4) at Binsted Village Hall and 3pm to 6pm on Monday, March 9 at Froyle Village Hall.