D-Day due over gas plant hit by protest

COUNCILLORS are set to make a decision on a controversial multi-million-pound gas plant on the edge of the North York Moors, nearly 18 months after the plans were originally submitted.

North Yorkshire County Council will finally move to formalise its position on the Ryedale Gas Project, which the Yorkshire Post understands will now cost well over its initial £50m estimate because of the long delays over the scheme, at a planning committee meeting on August 30.

However, the final decision over the bid to create one of the biggest operations of its kind in the North of England, will be made following a three-week public inquiry earmarked for October 25 this year.

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The chief executive of developer Moorland Energy, Lawrie Erasmus, who lodged the appeal with the Planning Inspectorate in June after the county council failed to make a decision on the proposed gas plant, said: “We hope councillors will recognise the strategic importance of the Ryedale Gas Project and the significant economic contribution it will make to the area, including the creation of new jobs and apprenticeships.

“Moorland Energy is committed to minimising the environmental impact of the project to achieve a mutually acceptable position with local stakeholders regarding the natural environment.

“We hope the committee will appreciate the proposed detailed mitigation measures and share the view of the North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA) that the project will have no negative impact on local tourism.

“However, the ultimate decision will be made by the Secretary of State following the forthcoming public inquiry and recommendation by the inspector.”

The plans, which were originally submitted to County Hall in April last year, have sparked a wave of opposition amid fears it could ruin some of Yorkshire’s finest countryside.

The well-head would be within the confines of the park, while the main gas plant would be outside, near Thornton-le-Dale.

Moorland Energy has stressed every effort will be made to ensure the proposed gas plant, which is aimed at generating enough gas every day to meet the annual energy requirements of up to 1,600 homes, does not impact on the environment.

But a campaign group, Against Having Sour Gas in Thornton (Aghast), has collected more than 10,000 signatures on a petition opposing the plans.

The proposed Ryedale Gas Project is expected to bring up to £10m to the local economy over the next two decades, with about 25 permanent posts created once production starts.

The county council is the main planning authority responsible for deciding if the scheme should be approved, although the North York Moors National Park Authority is also involved.

The legal action comes as the council is battling to make £69m in savings across all its services.