BRAISHFIELD residents fear their lives will be endangered if Hampshire's first gasification plant is built on their doorstep.

Worried villagers have warned that if there was an accident at the BKP Group's proposed plant at Timsbury's Bunny Lane it could even have serious implications for Romsey - several miles away. Timsbury-based BKP wants to build the gasifer which will turn waste including old tyres, wood and plastics into energy for the national grid.

The experimental plant, which will operate for 12 months, will be able to burn one tonne of waste an hour and is also aimed at reducing the amount of waste buried in landfill sites.

People in Braishfield have bombarded Hampshire County Council's environment department with objections to the plan.

Parish council clerk, John Rhodes, said "There is considerable opposition to BKP's plans in the village," said Mr Rhodes.

Chartered chemist Michael Szelke points out in his objection letter that there is what he describes as "conflicting statements" in the planning application.

"Experimentation with such dangerous materials should be confined to a deserted location..." says Mr Szelke.

Another Braishfield resident, Robert Thomson, fears an accident at the site could spell disaster for people nearby.

"Should anything go wrong and toxic fumes enter the atmosphere, the general public in the nearby villages of Braishfield, Michelmersh and Timsbury would be put at risk. There are no guarantees this would not happen. In the event of a mishap, do the local emergency services have the ability to cope with this type of problem?" asks Mr Thomson.

Steve Renvoize is also worried. "I am very concerned on a number of issues all relating to health and safety threats with environmental pollution. In my experience the burning of synthetic materials produce very unpleasant fumes." said Mr Renvoize.

Michelmersh and Timsbury Parish Council's leader, Peter Pritchett-Brown, said the authority had fully discussed the application and was not happy with it.

He said: "Some concern was expressed over the perceived risk in burning plastic and rubber materials and the harmful emissions that may result if there was a process failure. There was further concern about the research and development nature of the permission requested."

Alan Dowden, who represents Braishfield on the County Council, added: "It will produce ash as a bi-product. Burning tyres and plastics is known to produce carcinogenic dioxins. It is an ill-thought and poorly drafted plan."

And Hampshire's deputy leader and Test Valley Central division member covering Michelmersh and Timsbury, Michael Woodhall, said that prior to the application going to the regulatory committee in June, there has been a period of consultation.

"I am personally mindful of the level of concern and will be adding my comment when I have concluded my level of consultation with the parish councils and parties concerned," he said. BKP's managing director Nick Scott Healey said the company was "very surprised and disappointed" at reactions to their scheme.

"BKP have in this case clearly failed to explain the process adequately to the satisfaction of local residents which is obvious from the use of words such as experimental, incineration and fumes - none of which is applicable to the process that we are proposing. We have had regular meetings with both Michelmersh and Timsbury, and Braishfield Parish Councils to discuss planning proposals and future site activities at BKP to avoid misunderstanding and misinformation being produced," said Mr Scott Healey.

He advised concerned residents to visit BKP's website, at