BASILDON Council has unanimously said “no” to £50million plans to build a controversial waste incinerator.

The cross-party call comes ahead of a final decision on the plans being made by Essex County Council.

However, an additional call for the authority to write directly to Environment Secretary George Eustice, asking him to step in and scrap the plans, was defeated.

The incinerator, planned for Archers Field in Pitsea, would feature two huge chimneys and burn landfill waste from across the county to “create secure, low carbon sources of energy”.

But major concerns have been raised over the amount of sulphur dioxide which would be released and the impact.

If approved, it could be built within two years.

However, the final decision on the incinerator - which will be built by Basildon-based recycling firm Clearaway if plans are given the green light - will lay in the hands of Essex County Council.

During Thursday’s full council meeting, Jack Ferguson, Labour councillor of the Pitsea North West ward, said: “I stand with my residents and I stand firmly against these proposals. We may not be the decision-makers in this application, but we must do all we can to put a stop to it.”

Tory Craig Rimmer, who represents Pitsea South East, added: “The levels of sulphur dioxide that could be emitted by the incinerator are deeply troubling, especially when there are other more environmentally-friendly methods for processing waste.

"On one hand to be asked to clean up our act on air quality by the Government along the A127 and on the other hand to be told we might have to put up with two chimney stacks polluting our air is totally unacceptable.”

Explaining why he will not be writing to the Environment Secretary, Labour council boss Gavin Callaghan said: “By doing this it’s asking us to remove a potential layer of safeguard from the application process here. It’s a very dangerous strategy.”

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, also opposes it. He added: “It can’t be right that as we try and improve our air quality and clean up our environment that the only way to deal with our waste is to burn it. Incinerating it is not the answer.”

Paul Whitehair, director at Clearaway, said: “We would like to build an energy from waste facility to process the waste that is already being brought to the Burnt Mills Industrial Estate. We are aware that it was debated at the Basildon Council meeting last week and objections were raised. We are confident these are fully addressed in our planning application which we expect to be made public shortly by Essex County Council.

“We want to be clear that there will be no more vehicles on local roads as a result of these proposals. In fact, we will reduce 8500 lorry movements per year with this scheme since excess waste that is currently removed from the site will be used to create low carbon energy instead. The actual carbon saving will be in the region of 15,000 tonnes CO2 per year.

“We are a family run business that has been in Basildon for over ten years. Local residents and the community are a priority for us, so we are pleased that this plant will create jobs and up to £50 million of investment.

“As a company, we take our commitment to health and safety very seriously. We have commissioned environmental and health assessments which found that all dust, noise and air pollution levels will remain well below permitted limits. The health impact was found to be negligible for local residents. To make absolutely certain, we will publicly publish emissions data 365 days a year, and stop operations if they exceed safe levels.

“We want to work with the community we are a part of, and if the plans are approved, we will set up a community liaison group to keep open channels of communication.”