Fury as North Yorkshire waste plant schemes collapse

FURIOUS council leaders were counting the cost to taxpayers today after critical funding for two major waste incinerator projects in Yorkshire was withdrawn by the Government, putting their future in doubt.

Protestors with banners outside the council officers in Harrogate earlier this month.
Protestors with banners outside the council officers in Harrogate earlier this month.

The Government confirmed it was cutting its financial support for the proposed £250m Allerton Waste Recovery Park near Knaresborough and a £170m facility planned for Bradford leaving four Yorkshire councils’ plans for dealing with thousands of tonnes of rubbish every year in tatters.

The news was met with delight, however, by campaigners who have vociferously opposed the scheme planned for the former Allerton Quarry site.

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Bradford Council estimated it had already spent around £5m on its joint scheme with Calderdale Council while the costs amassed by York and North Yorkshire councils on the Allerton Park project was put at around £6.5m.

The site of the recycling plant

Both projects were joint ventures between councils and waste managements firms that were expecting a share of £4bn the Government is spending to support projects that divert waste away from landfill sites.

But council leaders were stunned today when the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs decided the two Yorkshire schemes, and a third on Merseyside were no longer needed to meet European Union landfill targets.

It is just weeks since a different Government department confirmed there would be no public inquiry into the Allerton Park scheme, apparently removing the final obstacle to its development.

York Council leader James Alexander said: “To be informed now, after the granting of planning consent and the decision of the government not to call in the planning application for a public inquiry, that the funding commitment is being withdrawn is hugely disappointing.

“So this is a very poor decision by government Ministers. North Yorkshire and York have spent millions of pounds of taxpayers money getting the PFI project into the position it is in.

“We will now have to spend more on landfill taxes and on finding an alternative solution for our waste, which could mean further cuts to the council’s budget.”

Around 10,000 people signed a petition in protest at the scheme which was due to go before a planning committee later this year, with local MPs calling on Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to step in.

• More reaction in Friday’s Yorkshire Post