CONTROVERSIAL plans for a waste plant in Lostock Gralam have been approved by the Government.

Proposals by Tata Chemicals Europe and E.ON to build a sustainable energy plant off Griffiths Road have been given the go ahead yesterday, Tuesday, by Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, following a five-week public inquiry last autumn.

Construction is expected to begin next year and the plant, set to process 600,000 tonnes of pre-treated waste and biomass per year, will be operational towards the end of 2016.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “It is essential we have a balanced energy mix in the future to provide low cost, efficient energy to households and businesses.

“This plant takes waste and turns it into something of great value – enough power to supply 80,000 homes – and in addition creates jobs for the local community.”

Martin Ashcroft, Tata Chemicals Europe managing director, said: “This decision is excellent news.

“The plant is designed to provide steam to Tata Chemicals Europe’s Lostock factory.

“As an energy intensive business, we are faced with ever-rising gas prices which are increasingly difficult to absorb.

“The new plant will give us fuel price stability which will allow us to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and to plan our long-term future.”

Nader Bahri, director of E.ON Energy from Waste UK Ltd (EEW), said: “This decision is a milestone for EEW in the UK as it is our second UK plant to be granted planning consent.

“As a result, many tonnes of waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill could now be used to create sustainable energy.”

But Clr Lynn Riley, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s executive member for community and environment, said: “We are understandably very disappointed that the council's objections and the strength of local opinion were overruled.

“We now need to carefully consider the decision.”

Brian Cartwight, chairman of Cheshire Anti Incinerator Network (CHAIN), said: “We are going to consider the decision report carefully, all 180 pages of it, before we issue a full statement.

“It is devastating news for Northwich.”

There is a three-month period for opponents to mount a legal challenge to the decision.