CAMPAIGNERS last night condemned Oxfordshire County Council for signing a multi-million pound contract for a waste incinerator, despite the site not having planning permission.

Residents of Ardley, near Bicester, had called on the council to wait until a decision on planning consent was made.

But councillors yesterday backed a recommendation from officers to sign the 25-year contract with waste firm Viridor, even though a public inquiry into the project is still under way.

The council defended its position and said signing contracts before planning approval was standard procedure, ensuring tender prices did not change.

The village’s county councillor, Catherine Fulljames, said: “I’m absolutely disgusted. We weren’t listened to in the meeting. They had already made up their minds.”

Last year the council chose Viridor’s plan for Ardley as its preferred bidder for an incinerator. But its planning committee then rejected the proposal and Viridor appealed, forcing the public inquiry.

Ian Hudspeth, cabinet member for growth and infrastructure, said there was a need for an alternative to using landfill sites.

The contract will be formally signed in September, when more details will be revealed.

  • Waste Recycling Group, which had proposed building an incinerator at its Sutton Courtenay site, has withdrawn its application for a licence.

The company is proposing building a compost plant instead.