Grassroots protest aims to halt plans for big waste incinerator

CAMPAIGNERS are launching a grassroots protest to halt hugely contentious plans to build a multi-million pound waste incinerator as part of the biggest contract ever considered by North Yorkshire County Council.

Grave doubts have been expressed over a 900m waste disposal strategy in North Yorkshire if an incinerator is introduced, amid fears that the effects of the project could be felt for generations to come.

The waste disposal strategy will be the biggest contract ever awarded by the county council, and parish councillors are drawing up an action plan to block the incinerator proposals.

MPs are being petitioned to add their support to the campaign, and a public meeting is due to be held on Friday next week in Marton-cum-Grafton, near Boroughbridge.

While the event has been organised by Marton-cum-Grafton Parish Council, representatives from other parishes across the Vale of York are expected to attend.

Marton-cum-Grafton Parish Council's chairman, Antony Long, said: "These plans need fundamental rethinking.

"Recent technical developments mean incineration is now not only out of date, but no longer fits with the national and local strategies for dealing with waste in the 21st century. The answer is obvious – if you build a massive incinerator, then you have to keep feeding it a huge amount of waste.

"There is no incentive to recycle more, or to develop new approaches to waste management – only to keep burning."

He added: "We don't think it's an exaggeration to say that this will be amongst the most important financial decisions the county council will ever take. The impact of that decision will not only affect us, but people living and working in this county for generations to come.

"We can't afford to let them get it wrong."

A senior county councillor has admitted greater consideration should be given to more environmentally-friendly strategies, such as improving recycling rates or employing anaerobic digestion technologies, where micro-organisms break down biodegradable material.

Coun John Savage, who stood down as county council chairman last month, has written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to scrap the scheduled private finance initiative (PFI) credits to support incineration projects nationwide.

The PFI contract in North Yorkshire alone is expected to top 65m.

The newly-elected Tory MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, Andrew Jones, has given his support to the battle to prevent an incinerator being built in North Yorkshire.

While the county council has not disclosed locations where an incinerator could be located, it is understood one of the sites under consideration is at Allerton Park Quarry, near Knaresborough.

Mr Jones claimed that wagons would bring in more than 450,000 tonnes of rubbish to the site over a 25-year period – at a cost of 1.4bn to the taxpayer.

He said: "North Yorkshire County Council's plans for dealing with the waste generated in the county need to take account of the views of local people. I do not believe burning our waste is the way forward.

"Technology is moving fast and I want to see anaerobic digestion used to deal with food waste and huge efforts placed on both recycling and minimising waste in the first place."

The county council's corporate director of business and environmental services, Richard Flinton, said details of the technology which could be used had to remain confidential due to the competitive tendering process. An announcement on the strategy is due this summer.

The meeting on Friday next week starts at 6.30pm at Marton-cum-Grafton Primary School.