Thousands of tonnes of rubbish could be shipped into Swindon if a controversial incinerator gets the go ahead.

And residents are up in arms about it, with some describing it as an insult to the people of Swindon.

A legal appeal begins next week as developer Rolton Kilbride attempt to overturn Swindon Borough Council’s decision to refuse permission to build an ‘energy from waste plant’ or incinerator at Keypoint on land off Thornhill Road in South Marston.

And documents show that the company has changed its view over bringing in rubbish to be burned

Rolton Kilbride’s original planning statement said: "The renewable energy centre will have the capacity to process 150,000 tonnes of non-hazardous residual waste per annum, primarily from the wider Swindon area.”

The company said it had looked at using a nearby railway spur line but concluded: “The construction of rail infrastructure necessary to import the remainder of materials from beyond the wider Swindon catchment would be neither practical nor economical given that the contracts for imported materials will change over time (and thereby may not be located in proximity to suitable rail links) and would in any event comprise only a limited proportion of the overall residual waste received at the proposed REC facility.”

But new papers submitted just before Christmas in anticipation of the appeal hearing say something very different.

The company is now looking at using the railway line, and it’s talking to a London-based waste handling company Seneca Resource Recovery about bringing in huge amounts of trash.

The papers say: “Keypoint has the rare but significant benefit of an adjacent rail siding and terminal which is in place and fully operational. This represents an exceptional opportunity to be able to ship waste using the most sustainable mode and method for transporting waste materials.”

“The appellant has secured an expression of interest from the waste operator, Seneca, to import up to 50,000 tonnes of waste per annum by rail.”

That rubbish would be transported from Neasden in north west London.

A spokesman for campaign group SKIP -Stop the Keypoint Incinerator Project - said: “We have never once spoken to any resident of Swindon who wants this town to be a dumping ground for London’s waste.

“This change in the application is an insult to Swindon. It fits with the attitude of Rolton Kilbride’s barrister Mr Crean at the last meeting about this.”

Anthony Crean QC spoke at the meeting when the borough council’s planning committee unanimously voted tor refuse permission for the scheme, and threatened to put the council “through the mincer at appeal”.

Andrew Needham, Managing Director of Rolton Kilbride, said: “Waste is transported all over the country – and exported out of the country, including by Swindon Borough Council – all the time. SBC exports some of its waste abroad to Portugal at present, and Wiltshire as a county transports waste to the Lakeside facility near Heathrow.

“Whilst the original submission did not consider rail, in the intervening period since submitting the planning application and the appeal, RKL has been investigating the possibility of bringing in waste on freight trains.

“At the time of submission, this option did not appear to be a realistic prospect; however, since then, far more waste is being transported across the rail network. For instance, waste is transported daily from London to be treated at Avonmouth, using state of the art infrastructure. This development of infrastructure, combined with a Pathing study commissioned by RKL, shows that there is real potential that is important to consider.

“As a result, RKL has explored this as transporting a proportion of the required waste by rail would be preferable in terms of minimising road transport. Whilst there is ample waste within the local region, there is also a balance to be had with minimising traffic and decarbonising the transport routes. If RKL is successful at appeal, it is one of the operational considerations that would need to be factored in at design stage and we can consider.”

The committee refused the application as it would be a “dominant, intrusive and unsightly feature in a highly prominent location”, and the developers did not “demonstrate a need for the plant”.

Only four per cent of waste collected by Swindon Borough Council goes to landfill - the sort of waste that would be burned. about 40 per cent is recycled and the rest turned into industrial fuel at the Waterside Park plant.

The appeal hearing starts at 10am on Tuesday at Steam Museum, as a large crowd is expected.

The entire hearing is expected to last 10 working days but will not site on Mondays.

To speak at the hearing, members of the public should be present at 10am on Tuesday to get on the list.