Villagers opposed to plans for a permanent 30,000 tonne “mountain” of ash have reacted with dismay after Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) did not object to the plans.

TVBC said that it had no objection to the plans, which would see a 5m-high storage area for incinerator bottom ash aggregate (IBAA), a by-product of waste incinerators, built at the Enviropark on the A303.

One resident labelled the move “short-sighted” and encouraged others to object to the plans.

As previously reported, Fortis IBA Limited has applied to build the storage area at the Enviropark, which received criticism from residents of Barton Stacey, Longparish and politicians for the area. It was given temporary permission during the pandemic, but now wants to make the site permanent.

As a reserved matters application, the plans will be decided on by the county council, despite being in Test Valley. As a result, the borough council was asked to comment on the plans.

While the council’s landscape and environmental health officers didn’t raise particular concerns on the application, its ecology officer raised a number of potential issues with the site. In particular, the proposal to remove around an acre of trees was questioned as ‘a likely breach’ of environmental laws for its impact on dormice.

However, Fortis says that an equivalent area of woodland will be replanted on the mounds surrounding the site, as well as planting a hedgerow along the access site. TVBC’s ecology officer noted that with these mitigations, the site was “not unlikely” to be given a license to allow the work to take place.

The officer also asked for clarification on the potential impact the plans could have on bats and reptiles, and the firm’s plans to mitigate them.

Following its consultees coming back, TVBC decided that the plans would be passed with no objection, in contrast to parish councils in the area which have raised a number of concerns.

One of the residents against the plans, Henry Yelf, told the Advertiser the council’s decision was “disappointing and short sighted.”

He said: “It’s really worrying. Of course, the final decision will be made by Hampshire County Council and the villagers will be objecting until the very last moment.

“We’re still encouraging people to object on the county council site or by letter”.

He added the villagers were considering next steps in their campaign.

A spokesperson for TVBC said that they were a consultee, and as none of their officers gave any objections, only comments, they decided to give a response of no objection.

If you want to have your say on the plans, you can contact, for the attention of Philip Millard, with the application reference 21/00812/CMAN.