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Billion-pound waste plant set for approval
A HUGELY controversial scheme to create a waste incinerator to serve England’s biggest county looks set to get the go-ahead.
The project – expected to cost £1.4bn over 25 years – has attracted widespread opposition from across North Yorkshire since it was first mooted.
However, in a detailed report almost 400 pages long, planning officials are now recommending the scheme – at Allerton Park Quarry, near Knaresborough – should be given the green light.
County councillors will vote on the issue at a meeting in Northallerton at the end of the month, and campaigners are now hoping that if the decision is made to approve it, it will be “called in” by the Government and go to a public inquiry.
The complex, which would include an anaerobic digestion plant, would be operated by waste management giant AmeyCespa through a 25-year contract with both North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council.
They insist it would slash waste bills and landfill tax payments and help meet recycling targets of at least 50 per cent by the year 2020. It would deal with up to 320,000 tonnes of rubbish a year and be able to heat more than 40,000 homes.
The plan’s many opponents disagree with much of that and also claim the scheme is too expensive and outdated. They have also cited a wide variety of environmental concerns.
Some 10,000 people signed a petition opposing the project but as it was submitted almost two years ago, long before the application with all its attendant details was submitted, councillors are being told they cannot give it “any weight.”
However there have still been hundreds of other objections, from individuals and groups as well as councils and other organisations.
But the detailed report going before the authority said it was inevitable the plant would have an impact on the surrounding countryside and, although it did not comply with some policies, that did not outweigh the need for the development and its public benefits.
“This is a controversial proposal of major scale and complexity,” it said.
The report said a balanced judgement had to be made – and it added: “the overall balance lies in favour of the development.”
A spokesman for the North Yorkshire Waste Action Group said the recommendation came as no surprise to them – despite the “overwhelming weight” of objections.
He added: “We are quite confident we can get in front of a planning inspector where our arguments will prevail.”