The Department of the Environment wrote earlier this month to local authorities across England to urge them to hold early talks with interested parties over applications to build the plants.
The move comes as a mounting stockpile of meat, bonemeal and tallow builds up in cold storage facilities, the product of the slaughter scheme introduced in the aftermath of the BSE scare. Existing incineration plants have struggled to cope witht he volume and with some 350,000 tonnes are already in cold storage, another 800,000 cattle are due to be slaughtered this year.
Yesterday Jack Cunningham, the agriculture Minister, said he may raise with the European Union a study which suggests that Continental countries are hugely under-reporting BSE cases.
The study, by three respected experts on animal disease, appeared to back up UK farmers' suspicions that other countries have underestimated the scale of BSE infection in their cattle.