Campaigners attack council for ‘lack of leadership’ over PFI incinerator plan

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CAMPAIGNERS have launched a scathing attack on York Council after a planning committee pushed forward plans for a hugely controversial £1.45bn waste incinerator in North Yorkshire,

The committee was being consulted on the proposals as a neighbouring authority to North Yorkshire County Council – which will consider the planning application in the new year – but did not register any objection to the incinerator at Allerton Park, near Knaresborough, with 11 councillors in favour and two abstentions.

Following the meeting, campaigners last night accused the council of a lack of political leadership over the proposals and described the local authority as acting like “the back end of a pantomime horse”.

Richard Lane of York Residents Against Incineration, said: “The council has been dragged along by this and has never really known what is going on.

“The council have never really got on top of this and this was absolutely expected.

“There has been an absolute lack of any sort of political leadership from York Council throughout this process.”

Almost 10,000 people have now signed a petition in protest at the scheme which is due to go before a planning committee early next year, with local MPs calling on Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to step in.

The £1.45bn waste contract with contractor AmeyCespa is to be paid for via the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), a controversial funding method which the Treasury accepts is in need of reform.

The Yorkshire Post revealed earlier this month that it will mean both councils will have to spend an estimated £400m of taxpayers’ money on high-interest bank loans to support the construction of the controversial incinerator.

Coun Dave Merrett, cabinet member for city strategy, said: “The issues were properly debated by the council on a number of occasions in the run up to signing the agreement with North Yorkshire County Council.

“The adoption of this particular scheme was granted on the basis of an open tendering process which involved significant point scoring for environmental and financial issues.”