OFFICIALS THIS week cautiously backed calls from regional planners for the government to support waste incinerator construction on greenbelt sites.
The government's Countryside Agency gave qualified support to a campaign for greenbelt incinerators led by the South East of England Regional Assembly (SEERA).
'We don't wholly object, but we are nervous that the policy could be abused. But we do recognise the need for many more waste facilities, ' said Countryside Agency regional planning adviser Fiona Fraser Boulton.
SEERA said 'several hundred' waste facilities were needed in the south east to meet the requirements of the Landfill Directive. This aims to cut the amount of waste landfilled.
SEERA's own waste strategy also includes building on Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
'Recycling and waste facilities must be where the need is, but you can't find the land in existing urban areas in the south east, ' said SEERA planning and transport director Mike Gwilliam.
SEERA submitted its waste strategy to the government in March this year. It will be out for consultation until October.
'It's such a serious situation.
You can't be too precious about greenbelt land. We want the government to back our approach and understand the scale of the crisis, ' said Gwilliam.
The plan has already won support from ICE and SEERA also claims to have the backing of local authorities and the waste industry.
A recent independent Mori poll in the south east also reveals public backing for SEERA's plans.