A HUGE incinerator that could burn up to 250,000 tonnes of rubbish per year is set to go ahead at the former Westfield open cast mine.

On Monday, Fife Council's central area planning committee approved the details for a project that will see an energy recovery facility built at the site, which lies between Ballingry, Cardenden and Kinglassie.

Convener Ken Caldwell said: "I think it's a good thing. It will create jobs and use land, a brownfield site, that's currently derelict.

"We went for a site visit when it came up the first time. It's a former opencast mine so it's not as if it could be used for anything else, it's very limited anyway."

The applicant, Westfield Energy Recovery Ltd, said waste that cannot be recycled would be burned on the site, potentially 24 hours a day, with the electricity generated by the plant to be exported to the national grid.

Another by-product would be steam which could be used to provide heat for neighbouring businesses.

There will be up to 134 HGV movements in and out of the site every day and there is no current agreement for Fife Council to supply any waste for the facility.

There were 35 objections to the proposals, including concerns about road safety, pollution, climate change, noise, smell, light pollution, impact on the countryside and infringing human rights – to be able to enjoy property peacefully and respect for private and family life.

Cllr Caldwell said: "There will be lorries going back and forward so there will be noise but we're doing everything we can to minimise the impact and mitigate for adverse impacts, for example screening and security lighting.

"They will be burning waste but that will be controlled under licence by Sepa.

"It's waste you can't send to landfill so if we don't deal with it we'll have to send it for someone else to get rid of, and the further away you send it the higher the cost to the council."

The application site covers just over nine hectares of a much larger 423 hectares site that has been owned by Hargreaves since 2013, following the demise of Scottish Coal.

Fife Council gave planning permission in principle for the Westfield Restoration and Regeneration Project in 2017.

The application before Monday's central area planning committee allowed councillors to look at more detailed plans for the energy recovery facility.

Cllr Caldwell confirmed: "It had already received planning approval in principle so this was about the details and they were all within what had been previously agreed.

"I'm very interested in the environmental aspects and they're going to create walkways and improve the landscape setting so there will be benefits for members of the public.

"In the long term, and I'm a great believer in railways, there's an old freight line that could be brought back into use too."

Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, Mark Ruskell, argued against the proposed incinerator and said: "In the last few years we’ve seen a rush of applications in Scotland to build so called ‘energy from waste’ facilities, which will burn rubbish we will soon no longer be able to send to landfill.

"This completely misses the point of closing landfill sites, however, – we should be doing all we can to reduce non-recyclable waste to an absolute minimum, not planning to burn it all instead."

Westfield Energy Recovery Ltd was set up by Brockwell Energy specifically for the project.

And Brockwell is itself a subsidiary of Hargreaves Services plc, responsible for the development and operation of the group’s energy generation projects.

Iain Cockburn, the chief financial officer of Brockwell Energy, previously explained to the Times that such plants were vital to get rid of rubbish that can't be recycled and shouldn't go to landfill.

He said: "If Scotland is to achieve its targets set under its Zero Waste Plan to stop using landfill for household waste containing biodegradable material by January 2021, then new facilities such as the one proposed at Westfield are required to replace landfill.”

A council report to the committee stated: "The proposal would also act as a catalyst to enable the restoration, landscaping and redevelopment of the wider former industrial mine site for the wider public and environmental benefits including pollution reduction, improved water quality and the provision of enhanced outdoor leisure and recreational provision.

"Although the proposal would result in a significant increase in vehicle movements and size of vehicles, these changes would be less than those previously considered and approved in principle, and as such are still not of a level considered to be significant enough to merit a refusal."