Politicians have given new hope to campaigners fighting controversial plans for a new incinerator at Westbury.

Councillors have effectively withdrawn their support from the £200m waste plant at the Northacre Industrial Estate.

The final decision on the scheme’s fate will be made after a planning inquiry likely to be held in November.

Protesters gathered at the start of a meeting at County Hall in Trowbridge, holding a giant banner saying: No Incinerator.

Council officials had urged politicians on the strategic planning committee to restate previous support for the scheme ahead of the public inquiry.

But today they decided that the scheme could no longer be supported because it did not represent sustainable development.

Swindon Advertiser: Spokesman Mark Bailey outside Wiltshire Council’s County Hall prior to the council meeting Spokesman Mark Bailey outside Wiltshire Council’s County Hall prior to the council meeting

Westbury town councillor Mark Bailey said he was "absolutely thrilled" at the County Hall decision.

"We've won the battle - we haven't yet won the war. But we are elated at this very strong result."

South West Wiltshire MP Dr Andrew Murrison had urged councillors to change tack and express opposition to the plant.

He told the meeting: “We have a clear signpost on where the government is going with this, and it is to reduce the number of incinerators. It’s plain as a pikestaff.”

He said the ‘overwhelming majority’ of local people objected to the incinerator, and that the scheme would bring unacceptable levels of extra traffic onto roads in the town.

Planning officers had been nervous about the council moving to oppose the scheme.

Head of development management Andrew Guest had told politicians that it would have to find technical experts to defend the council’s new stance, which flew in the face of the position of the authority’s public protection team, Public Health England and the Environment Agency.

Mr Guest said changing its mind could be ‘dangerous territory’ which could open it up to having to pay costs to the developer.

But senior officials will now have to work with councillors to come up with the detailed wording of their new opposition to the scheme.

In any case, the council’s view on the issue is now largely academic, as applicant Northacre Renewable Energy has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate because the local authority has taken so long in its decision-making.

The council had voted to defer a final decision in April to allow it to consider the likely traffic impacts of the scheme, as well as a new government drive to halve the amount of the country’s waste going to landfill and incineration.

As part of its consideration, the council consulted a top lawyer to work out what would happen if it changed tack and opposed the incinerator.

The senior counsel reported back that there were ‘no justifiable reasons for refusal.’

The inspector who will now decide whether the scheme gets the go-ahead will take into consideration the latest position of the council.