NORTH Weald councillors have criticised Essex County Council for not ruling out incineration leaving North Weald airfield as one of six possible sites in Essex for a rubbish burner.

The possibility of incinerators in the county forms part of the Essex and Southend Waste Plan officially adopted last month.

North Weald councillor David Stallan told the Guardian: "I'm very, very disappointed that the incineration option was considered at all. North Weald airfield is inappropriate anyway owing to nearby houses, and burners should not be located anywhere in Essex."

Mr Stallan blamed importing waste from other areas, including Kent and London, as a possible cause of having to resort to incineration.

He said: "It (importing the waste) is part of the problem. I believe if they produce waste they should know how to get rid of it."

North Weald Parish Council chairman Bob Wood supported Mr Stallan's opinion.

He said: "I don't think incineration is a solution. I think central government should be increasing and improving other methods of getting rid of the surplus waste in Essex. In my view, a good start would be to stop the import of waste."

Councillor Anne Grigg said: "I'm opposed to incineration. But selecting North Weald airfield as one of the possible sites is totally wrong. Did they consider the health hazard it poses to nearby residents before deciding on what I believe is an extreme measure?"

And she said the statement issued by county council Conservatives, promising a referendum before incineration ever becomes a reality in Essex, was "misleading".

"I don't think if they decide to go ahead the result of a referendum, if one is held, will matter much. The idea of a referendum making any difference is totally misleading."

Mr Wood, however, thought a referendum could produce the desired result if carried out in the same way as objections to a planning application.

But he added: "If the referendum is held only on the principles involved, then it may not be able to avert the final outcome."