Proposals to build an incinerator to generate electricity from the county's refuse have been turned down by the Secretary of State.

Hertfordshire County Council and Veolia were informed yesterday that Veolia’s plans to build the plant in New Barnfield, Hatfield, have been rejected.

The county council is responsible for finding ways to dispose of the 540,000 tonnes of waste that Hertfordshire's residents produce each year.

Although Hertfordshire residents already recycle 49.1 per cent of household waste, last year more than 275,000 tonnes of municipal waste was not recycled.

Terry Douris, cabinet member for waste management, said: “This is very disappointing news. We urgently need an efficient and cost-effective way of dealing with Hertfordshire’s residual waste that will help us divert the maximum possible amount of waste away from landfill.

"Building this recycling and energy recovery facility would save Hertfordshire residents an estimated £667m over 25 years. Doing nothing simply isn’t an option.

“We are fully aware that there have been concerns in the local area about these plans and we remain sensitive to these. We will now, with Veolia, consider our next steps.”

The council is already facing criticism over the release of a consultation that suggests the closure of the Elstree Recycling Centre, off Allum Lane.