Residents are deeply concerned over plans for a gasification waste to energy plant at the Killoch site near Ochiltree, with fears that it may exacerbate existing issues related to traffic coming from the recycling plant nearby.

Community members fear that the plant will result in a larger volume of HGV lorries passing through the village leading to greater pollution levels than those already experienced from trucks travelling to and from EGGER Barony Plant in Auchinleck.

Villagers say they are unable to open their windows in summertime as black dust collects on their furniture due to the coal, cement and other residue being carried by the tipper lorries and that the disturbance from passing trucks has caused damage to property, including one man who reported a collapsed ceiling due to the vibrations.

In 2017, planning permission was granted by East Ayrshire Council for the waste to energy plant headed up by Barr Environmental.

It is expected Barr will submit a new planning application sometime in 2021 followinga consultation period.

One resident told the Chronicle: “Near enough everyone is against this as the emissions that are going to come out of it are going to pollute the village.

“We’ve already got thousands of vehicles a day coming through the bottom of the village and Barr are saying this new plant is only going to involve 54 vehicles a day. That’s a load of nonsense – they have to come back on a return journey which is up to 110 a day.

“It doesn’t matter what guarantees Barr gives us, they’re not going to be 100 per cent effective all of the time because the plant is going to be working 24/7, 364 days a year.

“What legacy is that for our children if we’re going to be polluting the air they’re breathing?”

Farmers in the area have also expressed worry that potential toxins from the plant could land in their fields due to the prevailing winds, affecting their produce and livestock.

One farmer said that if anything went wrong at the plant, it could result in an “economic and ecological disaster”.

Another resident said: “Everything is railroaded through with East Ayrshire Council. It was the same with EGGER. I’ve emailed councillors asking them to put my concerns across regarding the damage this is causing to my property and health. I don’t have a quality of life living here.

“My main fear is, who’s going to monitor the vehicles coming in and out of the village? It can’t be left to Barr, it needs to be done independently.”

Gavin Ramsey, managing director at Barr Environmental, said: “We have recently completed a nine-week consultation which included two live webinars. One of the things people told us is that they want to understand more about how we’ll manage traffic and transport.

“We’re currently finalising a full assessment that looks at those areas in detail and this will form part of our planning application to East Ayrshire Council. People will then have another opportunity to offer their feedback and the local highways authority will scrutinise it too.

“Modern energy-from-waste facilities are clean and efficient operations that use well proven systems and technologies to protect and monitor their operations. For example, the ash from the Flue Gas Treatment is classified as hazardous but this is largely due to its alkalinity – much the same as cement. It’s stored in a sealed silo on site and from there it’s transferred directly to a sealed tanker which takes it for reprocessing or disposal. This is a standard and established procedure that happens many times each day, all over the country.

“Our proposed facility will be tightly regulated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. We are also producing an air quality assessment. There will be an opportunity for people to comment on it as part of the statutory consultation run by the council after our planning application is submitted.”

David McDowall, Interim Head of Planning and Economic Development, said: “If such an application is submitted, issues such as those currently being raised by residents will be considered, if raised, as part of the determination process.”