Natural Resources Wales has turned down a permit application for a planned waste plant in Cwmfelinfach after raising concerns over the future health of local residents.
The plant’s operators, Hazrem Environmental Ltd, claimed up to 100,000 tonnes of waste would be processed annually at the site on Nine Mile Point Industrial Estate, including the sorting and segregating of waste for recycling and the production of fuel.
Emissions from burning of natural gas used in an on site drier would include nitrogen dioxide.
Campaigners had cited an increase in traffic and a weather phenomenon called temperature inversion as reasons for objection.
Temperature inversion occurs when cold air is trapped by warm air above, thus restricting any clouds or haze from escaping an area, such as the Sirhowy Valley.
In September last year, a leading health official recommended “exercising caution” when considering whether to grant the permit, and the environmental body have now refused on the grounds of health.
Jon Goldsworthy, Operations Manager for Natural Resources Wales, said: “One of our main roles is to protect communities from poor environmental quality that is detrimental to people’s health and the environment.
“We received evidence during the public consultation from Public Health Wales to advise us about the potential impact on local air quality.
“As a result we believe that the proposed facility has the potential to have a negative impact on the health of people living in the area. This is due to a predicted short term increase in nitrogen dioxide concentrations during certain weather conditions, such as thermal inversions.
“We were not satisfied that the company’s detailed plans demonstrate that it can operate without harming people.”
Hazrem Environmental Ltd has been contacted for comment.