DORSET Council came under attack from Portland Port for its approach to the waste to energy plant application.
Port chief executive officer Bill Reeves said the authority had previously, unexpectedly, commissioned new landscape and heritage reports which over-turned previous reports which had raised no objection.
He accused the council of ‘opinion shopping’ which he said involved asking the same question until you get the answer you need.
He also cited an email from the Dorset Waste Partnership which he claimed supported waste management facilities, including processing and export, at the Port.
Mr Reeves said he failed to understand why Portland Port had not been allocated as an official waste site.
Dorset Council’s waste strategy also came under fire from planning consultant Tim Hancock who said the authority had failed to deliver a credible waste strategy with much of the rubbish Dorset produced being exported to a waste to energy plant at Marchwood near Southampton and to a similar facility near Heathrow airport, with much of the remainder being exported to Holland.
He said that both of those UK facilities were limited in their capacity and could not guarantee taking Dorset waste into the future.
He said that although the county had four allocated waste sites, other than landfill, none of them were operational, one having been allocated for 17 years.
He argued that if Dorset was to solve its own waste problem, in a sustainable way, it needed the Portland plant.
Mr Hancock said the plant would comply with all the relevant national policies and all its benefits, including producing power for cruise liners and the prisons, would outweigh the slight harm to the landscape and sites of heritage interest.
“Just to make this clear the site is not within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty nor the World Heritage Site,” he said.
Another planning consultant for the development, Jane Davies, said the site had been designed to minimise the views of the plant from across Portland Harbour, including a mesh covering which would mask its shape and help it blend into the landscape.
She said the first three Dorset Council officers who had looked at landscape had found that it would have no significant impact, but almost a year later the council decided to take on another expert who took an opposite view.
She claimed that his report contained a number of inaccuracies and she believed the robustness of its arguments should be called into question.
Senior planning officer, Mike Garrity, told the meeting that it was no secret that the council had seen changes of officers during the application process and said it was not unusual to go back and ask for a second opinion on some issues.