Council drops legal action over £1.4bn incinerator scheme

4:48pm Friday 17th January 2014

A CONSERVATIVE council has abandoned legal action against the Government over the withdrawal of £65m funding for a waste incinerator and recycling centre.

North Yorkshire County Council’s joint application with City of York Council for a judicial review of the Government’s decision had been due to be heard at the end of the month.

The Government U-turn over underpinning the £1.4bn energy-from-waste scheme at Allerton Park, between York and Knaresborough, with £65m of credits from the Private Finance Initiative threw the controversial scheme into doubt last March.

The move was described as "baffling" by shocked council chiefs who had spent five years on the scheme, but was greeted jubilantly by campaigners against the project.

The councils, which have spent £7m on expert advice over the scheme, have since been examining alternative ways of funding the scheme.

A county council spokesman said that after receiving legal advice and examining the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) defence,  it would not be in the public interest to continue to prosecute the judicial review.

He said: “The advice is that the councils’ case is strong and we continue to believe that Defra made an unlawful decision, but it is clear from this and other recent decisions that Defra do not wish to continue to support projects of this type anymore.

“We worked closely with Defra for many years on this project and feel very disappointed by the way they have conducted themselves, but we now have to accept that the argument is not worth pursuing.”

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said the legal challenge would have wasted public money.

He said: “It is difficult to see a way forward for this proposal retaining the incinerator element which already has in its wake a trail of problems and can only look forward to an uncertain future financially.”

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