The Hampden Planning Board voted unanimously to approve construction of Fiberight’s first-in-the-nation waste management plant in the town, a major step toward the controversial plant being built.

The approval this week comes after the Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued conditional final permits to Fiberight and the Municipal Review Committee, the partner organization that represents Maine municipalities that will use the plant despite eight opposition comments on the previously issued draft permits. Those opposition comments included one from the Penobscot Energy Recovery Corp., prompting a complaint from the MRC, which is still partners with the Orrington firm.

Fiberight will convert trash into biofuel and possibly other materials and sell recyclables, and the MRC believes it’s a better economic and environmental option for municipalities after their contract with PERC runs out in March 2018.

The MRC is a nonprofit organization that represents the solid waste interests of more than 100 central Maine towns and has persuaded 114 of the 187 municipalities now using PERC to join the Fiberight plan, including Oakland, China and Vassalboro.

But the MRC is still pushing to get enough towns to commit to the Fiberight project. Other questions nip at the project, including the comment PERC’s lawyers filed with the DEP, which the MRC said violates their partnership agreement and uses the towns’ money to fight the towns’ new option.

Most of the comments included in the recent DEP permitting process, including those from the law firm representing PERC, questioned the partners’ financial and technical ability to fulfill their commitments to the municipalities signing on with Fiberight and expressed concerns that the proposal didn’t follow a state statute on how to go about handling solid waste.

Law firm Bernstein Shur, commenting in a letter on behalf of PERC, asks that the Fiberight project application be denied because there isn’t enough information to consider it complete for processing, the project doesn’t follow the waste management hierarchy, the application materials have “significant internal inconsistencies,” and the project requires a determination from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it does not have.

The department allowed comments on the draft permits until July 5. Bernstein Shur submitted opposition comments on behalf of PERC on the final date for submission.

The MRC’s complaint said the process used to comment breaches the agreement between USA Energy Group, the majority owner of PERC, the communities represented by the MRC and PERC Holdings LLC.