However, the plant would still need to gain planning permission from Hampshire county council, which has “yet to be determined”.
Veolia submitted its plans for the 330,000 tonnes per annum capacity EfW plant in July 2020 (see letsrecycle.com story).
The facility will be based near Alton, at a site where Veolia already operates a materials recycling facility (MRF).
Last Friday (7 January), the Environment Agency issued a draft approval document, where it said Veolia had “provided sufficient information for us to determine that the facility will not cause harm to the environment or people’s health”.
It launched a consultation on the decision which will run until 18 February, and the Agency is looking specifically for environmental or health considerations from members of the public.
Colin Chiverton, area environment manager at the Environment Agency, said: ”We have decided that the application has provided sufficient information for us to determine that the facility will not cause harm to the environment or people’s health.
“There is now the opportunity for members of the public to examine and make comments on our draft decision document and the conditions we are ‘minded to’ include in the draft variation notice.
“We will review these comments to ensure that we consider all relevant issues raised before making our final decision.”
The application to build an EfW plant would see the existing MRF at Alton revamped and a new ‘super MRF’ also built.
With the Alton and Portsmouth materials recycling facilities under consideration for replacement, a new combined recycling facility is also being planned, Veolia said.
It added: “A new hi-tech recycling plant would provide improved recycling allowing Hampshire residents to recycle plastic pots, tubs and trays.”
Veolia revived plans for a MRF in Eastleigh last year (see letsrecycle.com story).
While the Agency says it is minded to accept the application from Veolia, Hampshire county council is still considering the plans, and it has faced stiff opposition.
Last year, a campaign group, backed by Conservative East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds, wrote to the secretary of state urging him to call in the plant (see letsrecycle.com story).
In a statement given to letsrecycle.com after the Agency’s decision, a spokesperson for the council said: “The county council is aware of the publication of the draft environment permit, for the proposed Veolia facility at Alton, by the Environment Agency.
“Planning applications and environmental permits are processed separately. Planning permission, from the appropriate local authority, determines if a development is an acceptable use of the land.
“An environmental permit determines if an operation can be managed on an ongoing basis to prevent or minimise pollution.
“The operation of the site as an [energy recovery facility] would require both planning permission and a separate environmental permit before it could operate.
“The planning application has yet to be determined. The county council has no comment to make on the environmental permitting process.’’
Draft decision advertisement