North Yorkshire County Council has been left reeling after the Government suddenly pulled millions of pounds of PFI funding out of the controversial Allerton Park waste incinerator scheme.
DEFRA announced on Thursday, February 21 that it would no longer authorise PFI credits for the scheme, and the county council (NYCC) has issued a statement saying it is dismayed and surprised by what it describes as a Government u-turn on the issue.
Council leaders from both NYCC and City of York council, who are partners in the multi-million pound scheme, say they are seeking an urgent meeting with the Government. City of York officials have denied suggestions their council may pull out of the scheme, a move which would land more difficulty on the troubled project.
But Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones and campaign groups have welcomed DEFRA’s announcement as a step forward for their cause.
The North Yorkshire Waste Action Group (NYWAG) are continuing their moves towards judicial review for the project. NYWAG spokesman Bob Schofield said: “ We are continuing to pursue judicial review because although the DEFRA announcement will make things significantly more problematic for NYCC to implement the planning permission, if it goes unchallenged there will be an extand application which at any point in time could be implemented.” Depending on the initial decisions in the case, juducial review in the High Court could begin in as little as 14 days time, he added.
“We have always maitained that NYCC was premature in assuming PFI funding would be forthcoming, because the Treasury has an obligation to undertake a value for money assessment.”
“What we have heard is that NYCC genuinely don’t know what they are going to do.”
If NYCC decided to look for alternative funding for the scheme, they will “almost certainly” have to re-tender the contract, throwing yet more uncertainty onto the project’s future, the campaigners added.