Calne Aggregates’ application to increase the height of its waste stockpiles off Abberd Lane was refused by planners after councillors said they were already breaking their planning conditions.

The strategic planning committee voted last week to refuse an increase in the height of piles from three to five metres. The company said it would increase operational efficiency but councillors said they were causing a fire risk by having piles of rubbish up to eight metres high already.

The cause of a fire at the site the week before, on July 9, was being investigated at the time of the meeting.

Alan Hill, councillor for Calne South and Cherhill, said: “There were loud explosions and the fire crews remained all night because of the danger.

“The three metre condition was put in practice for a good reason. The reasons are more valid today than when it was imposed because there are more houses in the area.”

Christine Crisp, councillor for Calne Rural, said: “This photo taken six weeks ago shows stockpiles of rubbish could be seen not just above the hedge but also above the trees, at least 8m high, and they are still at least 5m.

“There haven’t been any official complaints, that is true. People aren’t happy but don’t think complaining is going to do any good. We are perhaps not very good at enforcing.”

Howard Marshall, councillor for Calne Central, said: “The fire service couldn’t find anything to suggest foul play, which actually strengthens my argument.

“The Wiltshire fire authority’s biggest concern is waste sites and scrap yards. They encourage them to reduce waste piles and have them further apart. This application is not taking any cognisance of that. Any fire is going to be bigger, last longer and have more effect on neighbouring houses.

“The smoke and explosions were unbelievable.”

The case officer recommended permission be granted, saying five metres was unlikely to cause demonstrable visual harm.

No one at Calne Aggregates was available for comment yesterday.