NEW road infrastructure must come before a proposed waste to energy plant is built in Tiverton.
That is the warning from campaigners who fear such a scheme would generate an increase in heavy traffic which the current road network around Blundell's School and Halberton is ill-equipped to cope with.
Proposals contained within the plan which sets out Devon's future strategy for dealing with waste will be discussed at a meeting at County Hall, Exeter, tomorrow (Wednesday).
Among four sites being discussed by county councillors is a potential 'recovery' facility located to the east of Tiverton.
With major plans for new development to the east of Tiverton over the next 20 years, the county council has to consider how best to accommodate the growing waste disposal needs hundreds of new homes will generate.
The development management committee meeting will hear representations from communities about the proposed schemes which are still at an early stage.
Jeremy Salter, of Tiverton Civic Society, is among those speaking at the meeting.
Mr Salter said: "Because of the potential traffic problems for Blundell's School and Halberton, we would strongly oppose any planning application which would seek to build a waste to energy plant before new road infrastructure, linking the Eastern Urban Extension to the A361, is in place."
"We are also concerned about the increased run-off from such a large impermeable surface as an energy plant, as this could exacerbate the flood risk in the Lowman valley, recently highlighted by the floods in Chapel Street."
The exact location or type of plant has yet to be identified but the Civic Society believe the "only acceptable site" in its opinion would be north of Blundell's Road and close to the A361, towards the north western corner of the eastern urban extension close to Paradise Wood.
Mr Salter said he believed this was the only feasible site as such a plant would not be acceptable near the planned green corridor along the former railway line.
Mr Salter said the Society welcomed the "proposed reduction of landfill, approved the sustainability of a plant which can supply energy and heat to local housing and industry, and appreciates that the proposed Eastern Urban Extension was, potentially, an attractive location for such a plant."
Councillor Des Hannon, who represents Tiverton, said: "Any plant must be located as near as possible to the main road infrastructure – coincidentally as far away as possible from existing homes, so that there are no additional truck movements through Blundell's Road or Halberton.
"This means that I want access to be provided from the North Devon Link Road at the outset to safeguard the interests of people who live in the area."
Cllr Hannon said he was keen to hear from any residents of the area who still wanted to make their views known ahead of tomorrow's meeting.
Cllr Hannon said he had not been in favour of the proposed eastern urban expansion of Tiverton, but now that it was a reality, attention needed to switch to getting infrastructure in place before housing was built.
He said: "If you are going to have a big development like this, and the argument has already passed on that, I would prefer to have some form of waste to energy plant rather than more landfill facilities."