North Yorkshire’s controversial waste incinerator plans for Allerton Park have got the go ahead from councillors.
The county council’s planning committee voted in favour of the proposals to build a multi-million pound waste treatment plant, including an incinerator, on the site near Knaresborough and Boroughbridge.
After a marathon six-and-a-half hour meeting, the longest North Yorkshire’s planning committee has ever spent considering one application, members voted nine to two in favour of proposals.
Protesters gathered outside the county hall in Northallerton from 9am on Tuesday, October 30, ahead of the meeting at 11am, with many local residents and parish councillors speaking against the scheme during the meeting in the Grand Meeting Hall. A video link was set up for members of the public to watch proceedings in another room in county hall.
Seventeen speakers, including campaign groups North Yorkshire Waste Action Group and York Residents Against Incineration, the group of nearby parish councils opposing the scheme, and several county councillors, condemned the plans as bad for the environment and landscape.
They also criticised the technology used in the incinerator, saying it is outdated before the plans are even approved.
The first objections came from County Coun John Watson who could not attend the meeting but sent a DVD.
“The right conclusion will be to say that we don’t need something of this size or form. A better conclusion would be to say we don’t need it at all,” he said on the film.
Later, 17-year-old Rosie Wilson from Grafton appealed to the committee not to leave incineration as their legacy to her generation.
“To my generation, landfill and incineration are terms from the past,” she said.
“My generation is in tune with reducing our use of natural resources and we know that technology moves on.”
Knaresborough county and town councillor John Batt, who is also the town’s mayor, spoke on behalf of the town council which unanimously opposes the plans, he said.
“We are not concerned about a waste facility at Allerton Park, just the incinerator.”
He spoke of fears that Knaresborough will suffer as heavy lorries carrying waste from across the county pass through the town and worsen air quality at the Bond End junction, already one of the more polluted areas in the country, he said. After hearing almost an hour of objections AmeyCespa, the company behind the scheme, spoke in favour of their plans.
The company’s Andrew Cousins said the incinerator’s generator will provide enough electricity to power Harrogate and the scheme will benefit tax payers in North Yorkshire and York by lowering waste disposal bills and creating jobs and apprenticeships.
He also spoke of the nearly £1m fund the company will provide for heritage and landscape projects in the area and said statutory consultees including English Heritage, Natural England, the Highways Agency and the Health Protection Agency had raised no objections.
In the later debate County Coun Andrew Goss said: “This is the most important planning decision this council has ever had to take.”
The meeting finally drew to a close with the vote at 5.30pm .
Voting in favour were Conservative councillors John Blackburn, David Blades, Robert Heseltine, Michael Knaggs, Andrew Lee, Dave Peart, Peter Sowray, and substitute committee members Richard Welch and David Ireton. Against were Liberal Democrat members Bill Hoult and Andrew Goss.
In December 2010 members of North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council awarded a 25 year contract waste management contract to AmeyCespa.
Now campaigners the North Yorkshire Waste Action Group is urging people to write to the Secretary of State asking for a planning inquiry, and local MP Andrew Jones has already asked Eric Pickles to call the case in.
“I commend the efforts of everyone who fought for a different decision. This is not the end of the campaign.
County Coun Peter Sowray, chairman of the planning committee, denied suggestions the decision was a foregone conclusion but admitted another outcome was unlikely.
“I have read the report thoroughly, and with my hand on my heart I didn’t see the decision going any other way.”