Plans for an incinerator on Green Belt land in neighbouring town, Hatfield, have been rejected by the Government.

In a report released this morning, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, refused the application for a energy-from-waste plant at New Barnfield.

Mr Pickles said: “Development within the green belt will not be allowed unless there are very special circumstances, and in this case, the benefits of the development did not outweigh the potential harm to the green belt.”

The decision follows a six-week inquiry last year. Hertfordshire County Council originally approved the plans by developers Veolia.

Green Councillor Simon Grover welcomed the ‘fantastic’ news this morning.

He said: “This is fantastic news for Hatfield residents threatened by the incinerator. But it's also fantastic news for taxpayers throughout Hertfordshire who will not now be tied into a ruinous long-term contract to effectively pay Veolia to burn our money.

“There are cheaper, cleaner, greener ways to deal with our waste, and the County Council must now urgently explore those.

“What is scandalous is that the council insisted on pursuing this doomed scheme for so long, costing taxpayers even more money in the process.”

The plans had been heavily criticised by campaigners in Hatfield and St Albans, who feared the plant would lead to increased pollution and generate a lot of traffic close to people's homes and schools.

Liberal-Democrat parliamentary candidate, Sandy Walkington said:"This bombshell announcement is a tremendous validation of all the hard work by residents and protesters. This was a wholly misconceived scheme and the county council has been well and truly caught out.

"The council's waste strategy is in tatters, but it's the council taxpayer who will be picking up the bill."