Campaigners fighting against the long planned Rivenhall Incinerator hosted a public meeting to mark 25 years since it was first proposed.

Witham MP Priti Patel was called in to chair the meeting, which took place at Spring Lodge Community Centre, Witham, last night.

Organised by Parishes Against Incinerator (Pain), the event was attended by more than 140 people who discussed community concerns about the planned £500 million facility.

A spokesman for Pain said: “Many of the people who attended included parents who are concerned about the health impact and how it will affect the communities.

“The plant was originally approved in 2010 for a chimney height of 35m and to burn 360,000 tonnes of waste, but since then there has been planning creep, increasing the incineration levels to 595,000 tonnes a year.

“The latest planning applications would increase the chimney height to 58m, taller than an electricity pylon.”

The meeting heard from professional planner Tony Collins who said the applicant was using a method of “incrementalism” with the application.

Nick Unsworth, chairman of Pain, showed detailed projections of how the plume from the incinerator would affect nearby communities, including Colchester, Braintree, Witham and Kelvedon.

The spokesman continued: “Members of the audience called for a new approach to the way in which we process waste, which would future proof long-term waste policy and can respond to changes as required - this is something that the incinerator would not do.”

Pain has helped to organise thousands of objections to the consultations on the Environment Agency permit and the latest planning applications.

The spokesman said: “Whether Essex County Council decide to listen to the people they represent is something many were sceptical of, so many members of the audience committed to putting more pressure on the committee that will be making the decision.”

Campaigners expressed their disappointment other MPs, such as Colchester’s Will Quince and Braintree’s James Cleverly have been involved in the campaign despite requests.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Witham MP Priti Patel chaired the meeting. Picture: Anna Appleton-Claydon, Parishes Against Incinerator (Pain)