CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a waste incinerator in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty have gone up in smoke.

Grundon's proposals for an incinerator complex comprising one 45m (146ft) high building and two 21m (69ft) high buildings with two 75m (246ft) high chimneys at Old Kiln Quarry in Chieveley have been turned down by planning bosses at West Berkshire Council.

In a report on the decision, Gary Lugg, head of planning and countryside, said: "The applicant has failed to demonstrate that the development is in the public interest. It is considered that there is an no overriding need for the development, it has not been demonstrated that the development cannot take place outside the AONB.

"The development will generate negative adverse landscape, visual, environmental and recreational impacts and the proposal will not benefit the local economy. It is considered that the proposal does not respect the character of the area and does not conserve or enhance the natural beauty and special qualities of the AONB."

The rejection will come as good news to critics of the plans, which include Newbury MP Richard Benyon and West Berkshire Against Grundon Incinerator (WBAGI) - a campaign group which handed a 2,000-strong protest petition to planning bosses and argued the incinerator would damage the landscape, ruin the view from their homes and even impact on their health.

The proposal was first outlined in January when the waste firm said the plant would provide a safe, efficient and environmentally sustainable way of dealing with residual waste.

For reaction and to find out what Grundon will do next, pick up a Newbury and Thatcham Chronicle next week.