PLANS for a major new power plant in Hampshire have been approved - despite fears the complex will cause noise and pollution.

Plutus Energy Ltd has won planning permission to provide the National Grid with a top-up facility that will respond to sudden increases in demand.

Civic chiefs supported proposals for a biodiesel-fuelled complex comprising 24 transformers and almost 100 generators.

London-based Plutus is planning to build the 40MW facility at Marchwood Industrial Park - just across the River Test from Southampton.

It comes amid plans to create Clean Air Zones in Southampton and five other pollution hotspots by the year 2020. City council bosses had objected to the plan, claiming emissions would make it harder for Southampton to tackle nitrogen dioxide.

The scheme was debated by New Forest District Council earlier this year.

But members deferred a decision, saying they needed more information about the plant’s potential impact on the environment.

At New Forest District Council planning committee, officers said they had been reassured over noise and air quality.

A report said: “The development could operate without generating harmful noise and without causing a level of pollution that would be unacceptably harmful to air quality.”

But members representing the Marchwood area continued to raise concerns. Cllr Alison Hoare said: “Don’t be fooled by this application - what’s being proposed is an enormous biodiesel plant.”

The plan was approved by 13 votes to five.