Campaigners who are unhappy about plans for an incinerator near their homes demonstrated at Airdrie and Shotts MSP Alex Neil’s constituency office this morning.

The SNP minister has responsibility for community planning and Hamilton residents insist he should block the proposed waste processing plant.

South Lanarkshire Council rejected the original planning application but an independent Scottish Government reporter overturned the decision on appeal in August.

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Hamilton Energy Recovery Action Group (HERAG) have long urged Mr Neil to intervene.

Their high profile campaign has won the support of Labour councillors and MSPs, as well as SNP MP for Hamilton West Margaret Ferrier and SNP MSP for Central Scotland Richard Lyle.

Today’s demonstration was aimed at putting pressure on Mr Neil to pull rank on the reporter who gave the incinerator the green light.

Protestors are concerned because the incinerator will be closer to their properties than Scottish Government guidelines recommend.

Ann Brittle, who lives near the site, said “I'm frustrated with Alex Neil for saying if he'd known about the case, he would have stopped it. Well he did know and he can stop it. We are fighting for our children and won't let this go.”

Community Councillor Christine Reid, who also lives in the area, said: “This is a worrying time for residents in South Lanarkshire and we are disappointed Alex Neil sees no benefit in meeting with us.

“He refuses to come to us so today we demonstrated at his office. We will continue to oppose the incinerator and any application to SEPA for a license.”

Labour councillor for Hamilton, Monica Lennon, who joined demonstrators, said: “No community is safe while Nicola Sturgeon leaves Alex Neil in charge of planning decisions. His actions have no regard for local democracy, reasonableness or common sense.

“But he's the one in charge so we're calling on him to look residents in the eye, do the right thing and block the incinerator from going ahead.”

Constituency staff met demonstrators but Mr Neil was not in the office today.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The cabinet secretary held a meeting with the local campaign committee recently and also wrote to South Lanarkshire Council to clarify if it intended to use its powers to revoke this planning decision.

“It is clear that the council do not intend to do so. In all the circumstances, and particularly given that the local authority would be liable for any compensation paid which could be considerable, the Scottish Government has no intention of seeking revocation.

“The cabinet secretary also highlighted the fact that, should consent be revoked, the local authority would likely be liable for considerable compensation which has the potential to affect budgets for other council services.”