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North Yorkshire County Council agrees to press ahead with controversial £1.4 billion incinerator scheme
1:55pm Tuesday 1st October 2013 in News
COUNCILLORS have pledged to hold a wide-ranging debate over a controversial £1.4 billion energy-from-waste incinerator scheme after agreeing to press ahead with the project.
As more than two years has passed since waste firm AmeyCespa lodged a planning application to build the plant at Allerton Park, off the A1(M) between Knaresborough and York, North Yorkshire County Council was contractually required to reconsider the scheme.
A meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s executive heard it had been delayed due to extensive work on the planning application by officers and numerous legal challenges, including a Court of Appeal hearing due to be held later this month.
Councillors were told if they scrapped its contract with the waste firm, it would cost the authority and its partner in the scheme, City of York Council, £3m.
However, if the campaigners seeking to block the incinerator - led by Marton cum Grafton Parish Council - are successful and the scheme cannot achieve planning permission, the councils’ backing the project would face paying £5m compensation to AmeyCespa.
Campaigners attending the meeting pressed the council to return to the drawing board and find a different way of dealing with household waste, saying the scheme had radically altered since being submitted and called for an analysis of the project’s financial consequences.
Councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for waste disposal, said: “There is nothing that tells us that the legal system is opposing this process, so the decision should be based on what we know now.”
Swale ward member Councillor Arthur Barker and Catterick Bridge councilor Carl Les said the authority still had to make a number of key decisions over the scheme, including over its financing since the Government withdrew £65m of funding.
They said a comprehensive debate needed to be held, but not until the scheme had cleared the legal hurdles preventing it from gaining planning permission.
Coun Les said: “I have a number of questions I want to raise to ensure the scheme is in the best public interest, but we need to move on to the point where we can ask if this is the right project.”
After the meeting, Brian Cooper, of Marton cum Grafton Parish Council, said he was dismayed the county council had pressed ahead with the scheme at a time when the need for waste disposal was reducing and without being aware of the project’s financial consequences.
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