Protesters wearing gas masks turned up to demonstrate outside a full council meeting where proposals to build an incinerator in Sutton Courtenay were discussed.

More than 50 men, women and children stood outside Wantage Civic Hall, in Portway, last Wednesday evening.

At the full council meeting of the Vale of White Horse District Council, WRG — the Spanish-owned company which already owns and operates the landfill site in Sutton Courtenay — made a presentation to members detailing why it wanted to build the incinerator.

Protesters held fluorescent orange banners saying 'No to the incinerator' and wore gas masks to demonstrate how, they believe, the £1bn waste burner will pose a risk to their health.

The protest was one of many organised by Sutton Courtenay Action Group. It was supported by many pupils of Culham European School, who turned up to back the cause.

Callum Mackenzie, who is leading the campaign, said "Parents of local schoolchildren are concerned especially about the health of their children, and were demonstrating this outside the civic hall to show the strength of opposition to the proposed incinerator."

Roger Rance, chairman of Sutton Courtenay Action Group, said: "We were hoping that we could get the Vale council to help us oppose the incinerator. That was the whole point of the protest. We wanted to let them know how we felt.

"We didn't harass the councillors as they came into the meeting, but we made our point.

"It's hard to say if this type of protest is effective, but if we don't try, we have no chance."

The protesters also posed questions to the full council about its commitment to back their cause.

Mr Rance said: "It's hard to say if we are confident of the Vale's support. We have no idea how they are going to view it but we are hopeful they will support us. We didn't really get any answers to the questions we asked."

The action group will be out in force at Tesco in Abingdon tomorrow and it also has plans to carry out a similar protest at Oxfordshire County Council meetings over the coming months.

Mr Rance added: "It's not over yet, we have only just begun."

Sutton Courtenay Parish Council last month unanimously voted to object to the plan for the incinerator, which can burn 300,000 tonnes of waste a year.

Oxfordshire County Council is looking at proposals to build the incinerator in either Ardley or Sutton Courtenay.