A proposed waste incinerator could affect tourism in County Durham, a residents' group has suggested.

And another resident giving evidence at a public inquiry has defied anyone in the room not to feel just as "outraged" in their shoes.

Developer Fornax Environmental Solutions is appealing against Durham County Council's refusal of planning permission for a "high-temperature thermal treatment facility for clinical and hazardous wastes" at Merchant Park, Newton Aycliffe.

Read more: Objectors tell Aycliffe incinerator inquiry - 'it needs to be stopped'

John Longley, representing the Residents' Group, said County Durham was a tourist destination and signposted as an area of natural beauty, and the incinerator's 30m-high chimney stack would be "likely to be seen from the A1".

He said: "People will be thinking this is a beautiful area to come to, and they're faced with... a chimney stack.

"The tourism industry is worth £507m a year to this area. It employs 6,794 people.

"Just a 1% drop in the tourism industry because of the perception of that chimney belching out whatever it's going to belch out, it would result in £5.07m lost revenue to the economy around here."

Read more: Aycliffe incinerator inquiry - 'it's in the wrong place'

He was questioning town planner Simon Greaves, a witness for Fornax.

Mr Greaves replied: "We disagree with where you start from. The visibility of the stack is not such that you would be seeing it from the A1.

"Already within the Newton Aycliffe, and not least immediately on the other side of the roundabout from this facility, are large industrial buildings with stacks of a similar size."

He denied the suggestion that Newton Aycliffe was chosen as the venue "because of the cheap labour".

He said: "It was not a consideration in any shape or form. This is all about finding a suitable site. It was in no way to do with salaries."

When it was put to Mr Greaves it was not "good use of suitable land" north of Hitachi Rail Europe, Millennium Way, Aycliffe Business Park.

He responded: "Clearly we don't agree with you."

Read more: Incinerator inquiry - 'no evidence' of firms not investing

Resident David Storry questioned the type and source of the waste, saying: "My argument is where it's based. This is not NIMBYism.

"We're talking about a facility that is within 600m, less than, of schools, primary education, further education facilities, nurseries. It's right on the doorstep of farming land.

"We've got 600+ houses built within 700m of this whole proposals. You've got key employers in the area.

"If you accept there is a need for this type of facility, I'd counter that there are plenty of other areas in the North-east that are more suitable for this."

He concluded: "I strongly believe that any of you in this room, if you were having this plant, even the most ardent supporters, placed within 700m of your house, you would be just as outraged as we are as residents.

"And you would be doing everything to push back against this application, and as residents impacted by the site, that is all that we can do."

The government-appointed inspector holding the inquiry, John Woolcock, went on a visit to the site on Friday (July 1).

The inquiry has now adjourned until a later date.


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