Shock setback for incinerator scheme as councillors object

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A NORTH Yorkshire council has issued a strong objection to plans to build a £1.4bn waste incinerator in its district, in a shock setback for the controversial scheme.

Members of Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee, who are being consulted about the application at Allerton Park, near Knaresborough, before it goes before North Yorkshire County Council later this year, yesterday moved to dismiss officers’ recommendations that no concerns should be raised and instead voted to object strongly to the scheme.

A young protestor holds aloft her banner protesting about the proposed  incinerator  with other protestors outside the council officers in Harrogate

A young protestor holds aloft her banner protesting about the proposed incinerator with other protestors outside the council officers in Harrogate

The committee, which met following a protest over the plans at Harrogate Council’s headquarters, cited the scale of the proposals, concerns over highway issues, adverse impact on the countryside, concern over toxic fumes and inadequate information in the planning application as factors behind its surprise move.

In a second blow to firm AmeyCespa, which is set to sign the 25-year waste contract with North Yorkshire County Council and York Council, the Highways Agency has announced it has asked for any decision on the application to be put on hold for six months for the developer to provide information about planned measures to minimise the impact of site traffic on the nearby A1(M) and in particular manage HGV journeys to and from the site.

In a statement yesterday, Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, Andrew Jones said: “I have long opposed the building of an incinerator at Allerton Park. News that the formal decision on the application by North Yorkshire County Council is potentially to be delayed will be welcomed by many people and demonstrates that the proposal is far from straightforward.

“The development is planned for a site close to the busy road network and there will inevitably be an increase in the number of vehicles – particularly heavy goods vehicles – in the area. This concerns many local residents and clearly concerns the Highways Agency too.

“With other major developments planned close by, many believe that the strain on the roads will be too much and that fact alone should force a re-think on these unnecessary proposals.”

More than 10,000 people have now signed a petition protesting against at the scheme, with many calling on Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to step in.

The North Yorkshire Waste Action Group (NYWAG) and representatives of numerous parish councils in the area surrounding the proposed incinerator who staged yesterday’s protest, are hailing Harrogate Borough Council’s decision as a major boost.

Brian Cooper, an adviser to Marton cum Grafton Parish Council, said: “This is a very important step forward in our campaign. It means that the borough where the incinerator is proposed to be located now opposes it. We do hope that the county council starts to take notice of this.”

Bill Jarvis, AmeyCespa project director, said: “We will continue to work with the Waste Planning Authority and consultees, such as Harrogate Borough Council, to address key concerns to enable the delivery of a state-of-the-art waste management facility that will meet the needs of the communities of North Yorkshire and the City of York.

“We’ve been in positive dialogue with the Highways Agency as a statutory consultee for some time. This is a complex application. Therefore, we would always anticipate that such an important consultee such as the Highways Agency would be afforded more time to review and assess the document thoroughly. Our discussions are very much on track and we believe we can conclude them in the very near future.”