THE battle lines have been drawn as a planning application for the controversial waste treatment facility at Allerton Park, near Knaresborough, has been submitted.
Campaigners against the plans say they are prepared for a long, hard fight to prevent Allerton Waste Recovery Park getting the go-ahead.
The North Yorkshire Waste Action Group (NYWAG) says it has legal teams ready to analyse the planning documents as soon as they have been validated by planning officers and are publicly available.
The application comes after more than a year of consultation across the county. Due to be built on an existing quarry and next to a landfill site near the A1 at Flaxby, the plans have been submitted by UK company AmeyCespa, which says it will radically change the way waste in North Yorkshire is treated.
It is anticipated it will take between nine and 12 months for the application to be considered by North Yorkshire County Council as the planning authority, but NYWAG, which has collected more than 10,000 signatures against the proposals, said the decision on the site should be made by an outside body such as an independent planning inspector at a public inquiry.
It argues the £1.4bn project is a 25-year contract to dispose of all of North Yorkshire’s household waste and is therefore of major regional significance on the grounds of finance and environmental impact.
Campaigner Antony Long, chairman of Marton-cum-Grafton Parish Council, said: “NYCC have from the start referred to this as a partnership arrangement. They are effectively a co-applicant in the planning application.
“They cannot be allowed to determine the issue.
“The huge financial cost and environmental impact have generated lots of public opposition. This means that the plan has to be debated in public where the facts can be discussed openly and in full.
“We’re not opposed to waste being managed at Allerton and never have been. What we are fighting against is a scheme that is a colossal waste of money and which is bad for North Yorkshire’s environment.
“NYCC has ignored much better solutions. Just building a massive incinerator to burn waste is Stone Age technology. This is the wrong technology in the wrong location.”
Campaigners are urging everyone concerned by the proposal to demand an independent public inquiry.
Steve Wright, chairman of NYWAG, added: “We oppose the Allerton application because it is in conflict with both North Yorkshire and Harrogate Borough Council’s planning policies.
“They want to build this incinerator in the open countryside, miles from anyone who could use the heat generated by burning the waste.
“Our MPs have said they will push ministers to get the proposal determined at a public inquiry. It is vitally important people write to their MP, sign the petition and support us with donations so we can fight this proposal.”
Meanwhile Bill Jarvis, project director at AmeyCespa, said: “We would like to thank the people who have taken the time to get in touch and find out more about our proposals.
“The new facility will make the most of people’s everyday rubbish, ensuring as much is recycled as possible as well as generating renewable energy and creating electricity from waste which would otherwise have gone to landfill.
“This in turn creates a saving for the councils at a time when budget control is a key issue.”
As a result of community feedback, improvements to the site include reducing the height of the facility’s chimney by 10 metres, changing the site layout, changing the building design and materials to improve its appearance, improving access arrangements to the site from the A168 and creating a visitor and education centre.
If approved, the new facility will become operational by early 2015. AmeyCespa will also submit an environmental permit application to the Environment Agency later this year.
l For more information, visit www.allerton-waste-recovery-park.co.uk and www.nywag.org.