Montgomery County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist yesterday recommended that the County Council construct a $246 million waste plant that would reduce need for county landfills by 75 percent.

The system would be built next to the county's solid waste transfer station at Rte. 355 and Shady Grove Road and would burn up to 1,400 tons of combustible wastes per day. It is designed to generate the energy equivalent of 400,000 barrels of oil each year, enough electricity to power 18,000 homes, said project manager Andrea Eaton.

Council President Neal Potter said the council is likely to approve the plant, which will be paid for by industrial revenue bonds and has a planned completion date of 1987. "I think the (council) votes are there . . . It's clearly a proven system."

Operating landfills throughout the county has been an emotional issue, with neighbors of the sites complaining of truck noise and possible contamination of ground water.

"Locating new landfills and defending their locations has been an extremely difficult and expensive experience," said Gilchrist. "We can no longer rely on conventional landfills as our only method of solid waste disposal . . . "

Ideally, the new plant will cost less to run each year, because of its increasing ability to generate energy, a report on the plant states. The cost of landfills, on the other hand, increases with rising labor and trucking costs.

In 1987, the yearly bill per household would be $60 for the landfill and $74 for the recovery system, said Eaton. But 10 years later, she said, the landfill would cost households $98 a year, while the recovery system would cost $71.

A similar facility that will serve Baltimore city, and Harford, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties is nearing the construction stage, said Eaton.