Site protest over incinerator plans ahead of crunch council meeting

Protestors gather outside Allerton Park quarry  near Knaresborough
Protestors gather outside Allerton Park quarry near Knaresborough
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DOZENS of campaigners gathered yesterday at a site earmarked for a multi-million pound incinerator to urge councillors to block plans for the contentious waste plant when they meet next week.

Members of North Yorkshire County Council visited the proposed site of the £250m waste management facility between York and Harrogate ahead of one of the biggest planning decisions in the county in recent years which is due to be made on Tuesday next week.

More than 80 campaigners staged a demonstration at Allerton Park during the fact-finding visit by the authority’s planning and regulatory functions committee.

Opponents from York, Harrogate, Boroughbridge and nearby villages including Marton-cum-Grafton, Arkendale and Whixley were at the demonstration.

One of the organisers of the demonstration was Brian Cooper, a retired engineer who has lived in Marton-cum-Grafton with his wife, Sue, for the last 30 years.

He said: “If the waste plant goes ahead, it will have implications for every taxpayer in North Yorkshire.

“The Government has emphasised sustainability and that means actions taken today must not prejudice the ability of future generations to make their own choices.

“To saddle the county’s taxpayers with this debt means that this future sustainability is totally breached.”

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 and politicians have claimed the financial model for the development is deeply flawed.

They maintain that a £1 billion contract handed to a private firm, AmeyCespa, to run the facility is too rigid as new technologies could be developed to supersede the waste plant.

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

A county council spokeswoman confirmed yesterday’s site visit passed without incident.