Effects of waste plant decision ‘felt for a generation’

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OPPONENTS of a proposed 
multi-million pound waste incinerator have warned politicians faced with making one of the biggest planning decisions ever in North Yorkshire that the outcome could have repercussions for a generation to come.

Members of North Yorkshire County Council will meet today to decide if the £250m waste management facility at Allerton Park between York and Harrogate should be given the go-ahead.

Campaigners have made an 11th hour plea to the authority’s planning and regulatory functions committee not to support a planning application from a company, AmeyCespa.

The firm was granted the £1bn contract to run the proposed facility by the council in December 2010, and the authority’s own planning officers have recommended the scheme should be approved. But the North Yorkshire Waste Action Group (NYWAG) is hoping the plans will be called in by the Government for a public inquiry even if the application is backed.

The spokesman for NYWAG, Bob Schofield, said: “We do believe that we have put forward a strong argument as to why the planning committee should reject the application. But we are being realistic, and we are aware that they are likely to grant permission.

“But if they do and the waste plant is built, the repercussions will be felt for a generation. The contract is for 25 years, and people who are not yet even born will be paying off the debt that the taxpayers of North Yorkshire would be saddled with.”

The new plant, a joint venture between the county council and York Council, is aimed at ensuring both authorities reach a target of recycling at least 50 per cent of waste by 2020. It will use mechanical sorting and anaerobic digestion to produce green energy although the incinerator is the most contentious element of the overall scheme, which is projected to save taxpayers up to £320m over 25 years.

Campaigners have claimed the financial model for the development is deeply flawed. They maintain the contract handed to AmeyCespa is too rigid as new technologies could be developed to supersede the waste plant.

But council officials say the plant is vital to avoid millions of pounds in fines for waste ending up in landfill.