AN “incinerator” planned for Cheney Manor would produce enough energy to power 6,000 homes.

An £8.3m waste treatment solution could be up and running within two years if a proposal is approved by councillors at tonight’s cabinet meeting.

Three small-scale units would be built near the Waterside Park recycling centre, in Cheney Manor Industrial Estate, to tackle the town’s non-recyclable waste.

If successful Swindon would be the first local authority to use the technology.

Richard Fisher, the head of waste management at Swindon Council, said: “The difference between this and an incinerator is the same as the difference between a microwave and a log burner.

“This is a thermal treatment system that produces gas rather than heat and flames. That gas can then be used to make electricity.

“The energy produced by each module will be about a megawatt, which is enough to power 2,000 homes. As we would have three modules that would mean we could power 6,000 homes.”

The system would initially cost the council slightly more than it pays to send rubbish to landfill but should eventually save money.

Over the next 10 years the new system would cost the council £54m as opposed to the £80m cost of doing nothing, said Mr Fisher. This is a combination of fines for not hitting Government targets on reducing the amount of rubbish sent to landfilll, increased landfill taxes and haulage costs, among other costs.

Mr Fisher said: “We have also estimated that there is a potential income of £10m over that period so this is a sensible investment for the council.

“We are obliged to reduce the amount of waste we are sending to landfill and, after looking into all the options, we have concluded this is the best long-term solution for the council and for the town.”

But Green Party parliamentary candidate Chris Goodall cast doubt on the scheme saying that “gasification” was a “lazy” way of tackling the landfill problem.

He said: “There is still huge scope for encouraging people to reduce the amount of waste they are putting in the bin. The problem with facilities such as these is that councils generally get tied into long contracts where they are obliged to provide a certain amount of waste.

“There is now very little waste that cannot be recycled so firstly the council could be opening itself up to fines if it cannot meet those targets and I’m also dubious they will get enough waste to power 6,000 homes.

“From an environmental point gasifiers are far better than incinerators but it is still a lazy way of tackling the problem.”