Critics attack green energy scheme for former mine site

A row is growing about a multi-million pound scheme to transform a former mine into a green energy facility to produce electricity for tens of thousands of homes after details of the proposals went on show to local villagers.

Plans are being drawn up to re-develop the disused North Selby mine site into a potentially internationally important bio-renewables research facility to operate beside an energy recovery plant to generate heat and electricity.

Officials from Science City York have teamed up with the North Selby site owners, UK Coal, and an energy company, Peel Environmental, to promote what they say could be a cornerstone of a growing clean energy market in the region.

But local concern is growing about the impact of the proposals on the villages of Wheldrake, Deighton and Escrick, and traffic congestion on local roads .

The objectors fear the number of heavy lorries needed to transport the waste to the plant will increase traffic misery on the already-heavily congested A19 and claim the development is not wanted in the Green Belt.

Green Party York Councillor Dave Taylor said, "What might have started out as a Renewables Research Centre is now nothing of the sort."

Mark Oldridge, spokesman for the recently-established North Selby Mine (NSM) Action Group, said all local residents would get from the scheme was problems and it was opposed by nine out of 10 who responded to a survey.

The NSM Action Group undertook its own independent exit surveys at both the Escrick and Wheldrake presentations of the plans and maintains more than 97 per cent of local residents were against the proposals.

However, as reported by the Yorkshire Post, as many as 100 jobs could be created if the 30m development were to get the go ahead.

The chief executive of Science City York, Prof Nicola Spence, says the research facility would provide a unique opportunity to drive business growth across the region and support Yorkshire and Humber's already-international reputation as a world leader in the development of the technologies of the future.

The centre is due to generate up to 22MW of energy – enough power to meet the average needs of about 37,000 homes.