A JOINERY company hopes to alleviate the doubts of its Old Town neighbours after a council decision to prevent their use of a biomass heater was overturned.

TT Solutions and Interiors have been based at the Central Trading Estate since December 2014 and applied to Swindon Borough Council shortly after for planning permission to operate the heater.

The furniture design and manufacture company intend to burn wood offcuts to heat their premises rather than send them to landfill.

The council’s planning committee refused permission for the system on January 30 over residents’ concerns the unit would generate toxic emissions harmful to occupants of overlooking residential properties.

The joiners, who had already installed the heater but left it inoperative, appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in March of this year, who overturned the planning committee’s ruling on December 10.

In the report, inspector David Wildsmith said he did not believe operation of the unit would result in unacceptable harm to the living conditions of people living or working nearby.

Colin Doubleday, chairman of the Pipers Area Residents’ Association, expressed disappointment with the conditions set out by the report. He said: “We want regular measurements, and those measurements to be shown to local residents.”

Mr Doubleday said residents wanted a better dialogue about what would be burnt in the heater.

Despite no current plans for regular monitoring, John Bennett, the commercial director of TT Solutions said the burner is DEFRA approved for continual operation, and would be more environmentally friendly than the current system.

He said: “We’ve been filling up and throwing away one 20-tonne skip of wood waste and off-cuts per week – the heater will eliminate that.

“To heat the premises our existing gas burner will emit 23 tonnes of carbon per year. By installing this heater we think we’re improving the local atmosphere.

“We will only be burning wood and wood-based products, like MDF.”

Mr Bennett, 59, said: “It’s not something we’re taking lightly. We are a very environmentally-conscious company, and we know this heater is environmentally-friendly.

The inspector’s report stipulates that within one month of the burner first operating, tests should be performed to ensure there are no harmful emissions. TT Solutions intend to first use the heater in the new year.

Mr Bennett said he wanted to assure the public the unit would be fully tested, at a cost of thousands of pounds to the company, and results submitted to the council within a month of beginning use.

Councillor Nadine Watts said: “In my opinion the conditions imposed by the Planning Inspectorate have done nothing to alleviate the concerns of the public.

The Labour councillor for Old Town said: “There’s no requirement to monitor the heater, so we don’t know if it’s being done,” she said.

Coun Watts added: “I think if it was going to be granted, stricter conditions should have been imposed, which would mean people feel better and which would alleviate concerns.”

In the official report inspector David Wildsmith noted council officers recommended approval of planning, but the council refused because TT Solutions failed to demonstrate the unit wouldn’t generate harmful emissions which might cause ill-health to local residents.

Mr Wildsmith said, with regard to the “significant volume of local opposition,” there was “no reason to believe that this heater would produce any significant level of noxious fumes.”

The report added: “The council would still have powers under environmental protection legislation to deal with any statutory nuisances which might arise, if persistent odours or smells were experienced.”