Incinerator plans one step closer

Protesters gather outside County Hall, Northallerton, protesting against the proposed incinerator in North Yorkshire...30th October 2012..Picture by Simon Hulme

Protesters gather outside County Hall, Northallerton, protesting against the proposed incinerator in North Yorkshire...30th October 2012..Picture by Simon Hulme

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North Yorkshire County Council’s executive voted to push ahead with plans for a multi-million pound incinerator project at Allerton Park yesterday, despite opposition.

Despite the executive voting unanimously to approve the scheme must now go before the full council at a extraordinary meeting on September 24, for the final decision.

Ainsty County Coun John Savage (Liberal), who also sits on Harrogate Borough Council, has long opposed the plans and said he hoped the majority of the other 72 councillors vote against the plans.

He said: “There will be councillors from Ryedale, from Richmond, from Scarborough thinking ‘thank god this isn’t in my back yard’ but they need to think sensibly about the cost of this thing for the council.

“They are voting on an outdated, antiquated plan. Burning waste is wasting waste, it can be recycled.”

It had been hoped that the project would be abandoned after DEFRA withdrew £65m of funding for the Allerton Park project.

Despite this setback councillors have been told the scheme is still be viable and will save the authority £132 million, reduce the carbon footprint and avoiding increasing landfill.

Bob Schofield of North Yorkshire Waste Action Group which has fought the deal from the start said the council had got its sums wrong.

He said: “They are taking a huge gamble. Any significant savings will not occur, if ever, until the last five years of the contract.”

UKIP County Councillor David Simister (Bilton and Nidd Gorge) said: “Whichever way the executive had voted there was only ever going to be one loser – North Yorkshire’s tax payers!

“More than £8m has already been wasted on this vanity project, and to pull out now will come with a £5m penalty clause.

“However unpalatable that may be, it will still be significantly cheaper than if this white elephant is given the go ahead.

“To tie us in to a 25 year contract is utter madness. No sensible business would ever dream of doing that!

“When it comes to the final say in two week’s time I hope the majority of members will realise to proceed is sheer folly.”

MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, Andrew Jones, is now asking for the county council to examine the costs of the alternatives.

“The Allerton Waste Recovery Park is going to cost £1.2billion over 25 years. It won’t save any money for 15 years – in fact it will cost tens of millions of pounds over that period compared to landfill.

“The Government withdrew support for the project because there is plenty of incineration capacity around the edges of North Yorkshire. So why spend an eye-watering amount of cash building yet more capacity?

“Instead the County Council, if it truly feels incineration is the only option open to it, need to examine the costs of using those facilities which are now operational but were not available at the outset of this project. They need to be getting prices for fixed long-term cost-effective contracts with current operators. These options should be put before Councillors.

“It is difficult to see how Councillors can make a balanced decision without that information. This is a £1.2billion decision. Councillors should not take such an important decision without being certain it was good value for money and that they have adequate information about all the alternatives. Councillors do not have this information. They should insist they get it before going any further.”

Executive member Coun Don Mackenzie (Con, Saltergate) voted in favour of the incinerator. He said: “I am persuaded that the facility, will give the residents of North Yorkshire a cost-effective and reliable means of dealing with our waste.”