CALLS for answers have been made over a decision to allow a waste recycling plant to operate.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) originally refused an environmental permit to Hazrem Environmental but later withdrew its objections when the firm lodged an appeal.

Although the permit was granted by a planning inspector following an inquiry last year, members of the Lower Sirhowy Valley Residents group (LSVR) have since written to Welsh Government minister for environment, Hannah Blythyn.

Former pharmacist Allan Sharpe and Dr David Platt, of LSVR, have raised concerns over residents’ exposure to emissions expelled from the plant’s waste drying process.

The letter criticises NRW’s modelling of Nitrogen Dioxide levels, described their monitoring regime as “inadequate” and asked if gas burners were the “best available technology” for Hazrem.

Another letter was also sent to the environment minister by Islwyn AM Rhianon Passmore, its MP Chris Evans, former Labour party leader Lord Kinnock and former Islwyn MP ,Lord Touhigs.

It calls for NRW to publish the rationale for it’s u-turn in not contesting the appeal by Hazrem Environmental and expressed “deep concern” over NRW’s “portrayal” of the views of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board - who previously urged caution over health risks.

The letter adds the u-turn on a permit previously refused on public health grounds could undermine public confidence in NRW and calls for an independent evaluation by Welsh Government on data provided by Hazrem to NRW.

Permitting service manager from NRW, John Wheadon, said the evidence submitted at the planning inquiry was found to be “reliable”and "robust" and demonstrated the plant can operate without “significant harm to the health of the people in the area”.

He added NRW welcome the opportunity to meet with the environment minister to explain their approach, permit and future monitoring” and that they are “committed" to ongoing discussions with the Wellbeing and Future Generations commissioner in terms of how the act is being applied under current legislation.

Welsh Government and Hazrem Environmental were contacted for comment.