The future of the Allerton Park waste incinerator scheme is in doubt, after the government announced it is pulling the funding for the project.
Defra today announced it no longer intended to authorise credits under the Private Finance Initiative to play for the park.
And MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough Andrew Jones believes the announcement could signal the end of the project.
He said: “The decision by the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs to withdraw Private Finance Initiative (PFI) credits for the Allerton Park incinerator seems likely to stop the incinerator project in its tracks. I believe is the right decision.
“It is early days yet but this announcement will be welcomed across Harrogate and Knaresborough, Boroughbridge and the surrounding villages by the many thousands of people who objected to this proposal and the many communities who spearheaded the campaign opposing the incinerator.
“That campaign, which I have been involved in since before I was an MP, has been a fierce one with the North Yorkshire Waste Action Group (NYWAG) and parish councils contesting the planning application and the financing of it. For years we have raised funds and awareness to try and stop this project and everyone involved will be pleased at the Government announcement today.
“I will now be working with DEFRA and the County Council to look at how we dispose of waste in York and North Yorkshire. We need to invest more in recycling and generate less waste in the first place. It is time to draw a line under the incinerator and I hope we can now move to a greener and more sustainable way of dealing with waste.”
However, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is seeking urgent talks with Defra in a bid to salvage the cash needed to press ahead with the controversial project.
The leader of NYCC, John Weighell, said: “This announcement has come as a complete surprise to us.
“We have been repeatedly assured throughout the procurement process of Defra’s commitment to PFI credits.
“To be informed now, after the granting of planning consent and the decision of the Government not to call in the planning application for a public inquiry, that the funding commitment is being withdrawn is frankly baffling and disappointing.
“We have undergone a lengthy procurement process of more than five years, and Defra has been closely involved in that process – even to the extent of providing a permanent liaison officer at senior level.
“At no stage in that period, during which there have been continuing assessments to ensure that the scheme remains viable, value for money, and necessary, has any issue been raised by the Government.
“There have been repeated indications from Government throughout this period that the scheme will be funded through PFI .
“To make this unexpected announcement, without consulting with us and without warning, is extremely disappointing.”
The Council emphasised that the Government’s decision does not necessarily signal the end of the scheme, however.
A spokesman said: “The treatment solutions included in the Allerton Waste Recovery Park scheme would allow us to move away from having to rely on landfill to deal with the household waste that remains after waste reduction, reuse and recycling activities have taken place.”
“We will now examine all the options available to us, to determine how to move forward in the light of this announcement by Defra.”
In October, protestors gathered outside Northallerton’s County Hall to protest against the proposed incinerator.