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Allerton incinerator debate
This live event has finished
- Councils claim incinerator will slash their waste bills
- They say it will create 400 jobs
- Opponents say technology will become outdated
- They fear environmental damage
Right, this is Mark Stead at County Hall, signing off. Thanks for following the rolling report today and see The Press and thepress.co.uk on Wednesday for more coverage on this story.
Coun David Levene, City of York Council's cabinet member for environmental services, says the Allerton scheme is "a huge boost for our economy and for our region".
"It will serve more than 700,000 residents, create hundreds of jobs for construction and operation and is projected to deliver £300 million to the local area over the coming years," he said.
"The Allerton site will significantly reduce landfill. If we continued operating as we are now, the cost to both councils would have been approximately £1.7 billion over the next 25 years. This will allow both councils to avoid £300 million of this cost."
Planning committee chairman Coun Peter Sowray, who represents Easingwold, says the decision was the hardest he has ever been involved in.
"I feel this scheme is the best option and we have done the right thing for North Yorkshire as a whole, because we have to divert waste away from landfill," he said.
"We have not done the right thing for the people of Marton-cum-Grafton and other parishes near this site, and they will be upset and I understand that. But the decision we made had to be for the good of the people of North Yorkshire and the city of York."
Coun Sowray said he had spent the last two weeks reading the reports into the Allerton scheme and added: "Even when I wasn't reading them, I was thinking about them."
AmeyCespa project director Bill Jarvis says, in the wake of the planning decision: "North Yorkshire has a need to deal with its waste, and people don't realise just how much waste is produced and how much of a problem it is.
"The sooner we get to grips with it, the sooner we can do something about it. Wherever this facility was located, there would be issues and it will have an impact on the landscape, but that is something we are going to address.
"This will be a state-of-the-art facility with technology which will be updated as construction proceeds, and we are pleased that we have been given a thorough hearing and with the planning committee's decision."
If the Government does not call the application in, Mr Jarvis said work could start next year and take about 34 months to complete, although the plant would be expected to partially open after about 20 months.
It took six-and-a-half hours, but the Allerton incinerator will go ahead - subject to no public enquiry being held, of course. We're looking to speak to AmeyCespa about the planning decision shortly.
Coun Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire County Council's executive member for waste disposal, says the decision means the authority can finalise the contract with AmeyCespa while the Government reviews the scheme. He says it will allow £240 million of waste savings to be made in North Yorkshire.
The Allerton Waste Recovery Park proposal has been approved, with nine councillors voting in favour and two against.
Coun David Blades says we have become a "throwaway society" and the waste situation will "only get worse". He says: "We have to grasp the nettle. It is a close call but I am in favour of the scheme."
Committee chairman Coun Peter Sowray says he supports the scheme. "I'm satisfied it is the right technology in the right place."
Malton councillor Michael Knaggs supports the application, as does Coun John Blackburn, saying: "I feel sorry for the parish councils, but the factors are in favour of this scheme, which is at a site already being used for landfill".
Harrogate councillor Andrew Goss opposes the application, saying approving it would be "unsafe in the current economic climate" and adding: "This is the most important planning decision we will ever have to make, and it must be the right one for the people of North Yorkshire. The risks of this proposal are too great."
Coun Bill Hoult speaks against the application, saying he does not see the "urgency" for it and he's concerned about the council becoming "locked" in a 25-year deal for the incinerator.
Coun Robert Heseltine is first up. He proposes the scheme should be approved but says he's torn over it and "only time will tell whether my heart or my head was correct".
That's just about it for the officers for today. The proposal is now going to be thrown open for debate by members of the committee.
As the skies darken over downtown Northallerton - it was really sunny when we started - planning officers are going over the conclusions in their report. They say there is "significant conflict" between this scheme and policies on landscape and visual impact. But the proposal has been drawn up to deal with an "identified need" in waste terms and the impact of the development can be "mitigated" enough to allow it to go ahead. The need for it is described as "compelling".
Now it's "the need for the development" which is being explained to the planning committee. The incinerator is being planned as the "central hub" of a wider waste strategy across North Yorkshire. According to officers, AmeyCespa has done a proper search for other potential sites before choosing Allerton quarry and the county council's happy with it.
Councillors are now being told that getting waste away from landfill sites is "fundamental", both nationally and in Yorkshire. Officers also say they don't expect the Allerton site to lead to less recycling if it goes ahead.
Sorry for the delay in updates - we're just back after a break.
One of the other objections to the scheme has been that it could hit tourism, but planning officers say there's no evidence this would happen. As for the possibility of local house prices dropping if the incinerator is approved, that's "not a material planning consideration".
On roads issues, planning officers say there's already traffic using Allerton Park and the Highways Agency hasn't objected to the incinerator plans. However, the agency does want £128,791 paid towards schemes designed to avoid traffic problems and also for work at the A168/A59 junction.
It's quite a long planning report, this one, although you might have already guessed that.
Officers have moved onto whether the scheme would harm nearby historic buildings - they say there are seven listed structures nearby, but AmeyCespa's scheme hasn't been challenged by English Heritage, which says any harm would be "less than substantial". They also say the developers have put forward a plan to ensure these buildings are protected.
They also say there's no reason to turn down the application purely because of its design and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment have not raised any issues on this.
Officers have said it would be difficult to refuse the application on the grounds that it's been proposed before there's a waste management strategy in place for North Yorkshire.
Officers are now explaining the background to the proposals and the relevant planning policies councillors need to consider when they make a decision. And there are a lot of them.
A series of pictures of the area around the site for the development are being shown, with officers explaining what the visual impact of the development would be from there.
We've been going for more than three hours now. It would be great if somebody decided to go out and do a sandwich run, but I don't hold out too much hope of that happening.
As part of the measures to reduce the impact of the scheme on the surrounding area, a mound called 'Sand Hill' would be created, but planning officers say it wouldn't completely mask the plant from the south. They're currently giving councillors an idea of how the waste facility - which would have a 70-metre chimney - would appear from various angles.
Councillors are now being talked through images of how the Allerton Waste Recovery Park would look. An aerial shot of the site definitely gives an idea of the true scale of the development
We are now being shown slides of the development site, and this is the sort of thing you really need to be here to fully appreciate, so it might be slightly quiet for a bit as ordnance survey maps are tricky to put into words. Although if there are any mistakes on the slide front and pictures of somebody's holiday in Great Yarmouth somehow make their way into the presentation, we will, of course, let you know.
That's it for public participation. Next on the agenda is planning officers outlining the report into the Allerton Park proposals.
AmeyCespa responds by saying there has been a "very thorough process of community engagement" and the process has been "transparent".
We've kicked off again at County Hall. Anthony Long, who spoke earlier for the objectors, has been given a second hearing and has a shot back at AmeyCespa over its claims of public consultation. He says residents have felt "marginalised and not involved in the process". He also says AmeyCespa has not explained how it will overcome the parts of planning policy their scheme doesn't comply with.
Members of the press are being allowed to use the chairman's office today, by the way. It's very nice of him, letting a load of journalists have the run of the place.
Bill Jarvis ends by saying the incinerator scheme, rather than being a cash burden, will mean "significant savings" for the two councils and taxpayers, and that AmeyCespa is taking the "commercial risk' of operating the plant long-term. "Allerton Waste Recovery Park has been designed to meet the needs of all residents, while being economic, future-proofed and able to deliver long-term benefits to the community."
End of part one. We've got a 15-minute break now, so back shortly.
Mr Jarvis hits back at claims the Allerton scheme will soon be outdated by saying it's "designed to reflect inevitable changes over the next 25 years". And he also denies the development is unnecessary. "Any major infrastructure will have an impact on the local environment, and we understand this, but have no doubt: this facility IS needed."
Bill Jarvis, AmeyCespa's project director, is now summing up his company's case for the development to go ahead. He says continuing to send waste to landfill sites is "neither economically nor environmentally sensible" and North Yorkshire is running out of sites anyway, so the incinerator will bring "indisputable benefits" to the region.
The effect of the scheme on Allerton Park and Gardens has been one of the main lines of attack used by objectors, but Martin Woolley, a landscape architect brought in by AmeyCespa, says a "landscape management strategy" is proposed for a three-kilometre area around the plant and backed up by almost £1 million in a fund designed to protect the area. "All projects of this nature have impacts on the environment, and that is why we have worked very hard with English Heritage to develop proposals to reduce this predicted impact."
Incidentally, English Heritage haven't objected to the scheme, but the county council's own landscape architect recently said he couldn't support it as it stood.
AmeyCespa's team say the number of shops, restaurants and offices in North Yorkshire is expected to rise by ten per cent within eight years, at the same time as landfill tax is going to soar. "They will be looking for more sustainable ways of disposing of their waste, and the Allerton Waste Recovery Park can be part of that solution". They say there's going to be a need to dispose of waste which can't be met through sites elsewhere in Yorkshire.
David Adams, one of AmeyCespa's technical advisors, is outlining why the firm chose Allerton quarry as its chosen site. He says sites WERE looked at in York, but were "dismissed for a range of reasons, including access, deliverability, sustainability and availability". Eight sites were considered in total across North Yorkshire, and Allerton has been judged "the right site to deliver this waste solution".
Mr Cousins says he's been working in the environment his whole career and in waste management for the last 15 years, and the Allerton Waste Recovery Park would be "the greatest single positive impact I'm ever likely to make - I truly believe in it". He says a "minority" are opposed to the scheme but it's "the best option for North Yorkshire and York". "It is the right answer, the most realistic cradle-to-grave answer for North Yorkshire and York, and just because you don't like the answer doesn't mean it's wrong."
He says the waste recovery park is "the final piece in the waste management infrastructure jigsaw for the county" and will bring £300 million into the local economy during construction and operation as well as providing jobs for young people.
That's it for the objectors. Now it's the turn of Andrew Cousins from AmeyCespa. And he's got an hour to speak.
Anthony Long of Marton-cum-Grafton Parish Council says: "Future generatons will be strapped to this facility and bound to needlessly burning their waste while the rest of the world moves on. Once built, this incinerator will have to be fed waste 24/7 for the next 25 years. You simply cannot get away with that. Is this really the limit of our ambition and our ability?"
Peter Topham, who chairs Arkendale Parish Council and a group of parish councils opposing the incinerator, says its appearance would cause "irreparable harm" to the countryside which "cannot be mitigated no matter what schemes are proposed". He says: "It looks like a nuclear power station in the middle of farmland and next to a listed building - the harm it would cause is substantial."
Allan Walgate of Goldsborough and Flaxby Parish Council says AmeyCespa's analysis of accidents on nearby roads is "incomplete" and "unreliable" and the committee should ignore it. He says it also doesn't recognise extra traffic on the A59 when the new Poppleton Park&Ride site in York opens, and lorries using the site will create 3,000 more tonnes of CO2 a year.
Objector David Gripton says Allerton Park is not an "acceptable or sustainable location" and the scheme goes against 12 different council policies. "These policies are meant to guide planning committees, so how can you be guided?" he tells councillors.
Richard Lane of the York Residents Against Incineration campaign group says the incinerator is "premature' before a waste core strategy for North Yorkshire is developed. "A fresh look is needed, and this strategy is the way to do it. Predetermining what your strategy will be is grounds for refusing this application in itself."
Bob Schofield of the North Yorkshire Waste Action Group (NYWAG) says the incinerator will be '50 per cent bigger than needed on the day it opens and twice as big as is needed by the end of its life". "If you approve this, a generation yet to be born will be saddled with an inflexible, expensive facility which is incapable of responding to developments in waste management. It flies in the face of planning policy and is environmentally damaging - there are much better solutions available."
York councillor Dave Taylor says he's "appalled' alternatives to the incinerator weren't considered. "It would create immense numbers of vehicle movements to bring waste to the site from all over North Yorkshire, it would not conserve or enhance the environment or heritage assets, and the development does not appear to be financially sustainable." He says other incinerators planned for Yorkshire will be competing for income from commercial firms wanting to get rid of their waste and York and North Yorkshire taxpayers could end up "underwriting' the Allerton scheme.
Criticism of the plans also comes from Coun John Batt, who says it would harm "the entrance to two of North Yorkshire's tourist attractions, York and Knaresborough" and also sends the wrong message to residents about how to get rid of rubbish. "City of York Council promised its residents there would never be an incinerator within the boundaries of the city - fine, but are they OK for us to have it, and if so, why? We don't need an incinerator just because everyone else has one."
Coun Paul Richardson says the scheme is "unacceptable' because he fears measures put forward by AmeyCespa for protecting Allerton Park and Gardens, which lies nearby, won't happen. "This council is in danger of granting permission for something it considers unacceptable without landscape works, without any guarantee those works will ever be carried out. The thrust of planning policy is to protect the countryside and the landscape - this proposal achieves neither."
The next speaker, Coun John Savage, says the scheme doesn't tie in with planning policies aimed at protecting the countryside. He says it's "unsustainable" and an urban site should be looked at instead.
Coun Watson says the incinerator is not necessary and assumptions made when it was first planned have not come to fruition, such as the number of new homes in North Yorkshire and the likely arrival of other waste facilities in Yorkshire. "The right conclusion is that we don't need something of this scale or form."
The first speaker, Coun John Watson, isn't able to be here so he's giving his views by DVD. Technology is great.
We're just getting a rundown of the scheme, then it's public speakers, with objectors going first. AmeyCespa will then have their say.
OK, we're about to get started incinerator-wise. Stay tuned.
The meeting at County Hall in Northallerton
The county council's planners have admitted it's a "controversial' scheme, but something needs to be done to meet waste targets and avoid getting hit with massive landfill tax bills, and this is the best option.
They say the incinerator doesn't chime with the council's policies on protecting the landscape and causing "visual harm' to its surroundings, but this harm is "outweighed' by the benefits the incinerator would bring and so they can recommend it for the go-ahead.
They also say AmeyCespa has promised to carry out schemes to make sure the impact of the plant on the area is kept to a minimum. And they're pointing out that it would mean new jobs, both while it's being built and once it's up and running.
While Wykeham Quarry is getting sorted out, a few bits of background on the incinerator scheme.
In their report, planning officers said 449 people have sent in letters airing their views on the plans. Their concerns include whether the incinerator is needed and if it's in the right place, roads issues, pollution and public safety, the effect it might have on business and tourism in the area, its cost and its impact on the surrounding landscape, particularly the historic Allerton Park and Gardens which are basically next door.
However, a 10,000-name petition by objectors will not be given "any weight' by the committee because it was handed in before the final plans were drawn up. That hasn't gone down particularly well in some circles.
17 people will be speaking against the incinerator plans at today's meeting, including county councillors John Watson, John Savage, Paul Richardson and John Batt, and York councillor Dave Taylor, who represents the Greens.
There will also be speakers from the NYWAG campaign group and local parish councils, but AmeyCespa will have chance to press their case as well.
Today's decision-makers are councillors Peter Sowray, who will chair the meeting, vice-chair Andrew Lee, John Blackburn, David Blades, Andrew Goss, Robert Heseltine, Bill Hoult, Michael Knaggs, Dave Peart, David Ireton and Richard Welch.
The 11-strong committee is made up of eight Conservatives, two Liberal Democrats and an independent.
While we wait for the debate to start, why not let us know what you think. Vote here....
Just so you know, the incinerator debate is due to start about 11am. Councillors have Wykeham Quarry in Scarborough to get out of the way first.
Here’s pictures of some of the protesters outside County Hall this morning.
Let us know your thoughts on the proposals, either by commenting below or by tweeting with the hashtag #incinerator.
The meeting is due to get underway at 10am. Stay tuned throughout the day.
A reminder on the background here…
The project is a joint one between the county council and City of York Council, who say it will be a pivotal part of their waste management strategy for the future.
They say it will dramatically reduce their bills for dealing with rubbish as well as the amounts they pay in landfill tax.
AmeyCespa says the incinerator would provide energy to heat tens of thousands of homes and will create 400 jobs during construction and 70 roles when operational. Planners have recommended approving the facility.
The councils have entered a 25-year agreement with AmeyCespa, with a five-year extension option, but the plan faces fierce opposition.
Campaigners and objectors say the plant’s technology will soon become obsolete, it will damage the environment and the surrounding countryside, and it will cause traffic problems.
They also claim it is too expensive, with York and North Yorkshire taxpayers footing the bill, and they say the councils have not looked hard enough at possible alternatives.
TODAY is decision day for a controversial £1.4 billion incinerator scheme planned for the North Yorkshire countryside.
North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee will this morning start debating proposals by AmeyCespa Ltd to build the Allerton Waste Recovery Park next to the A1(M) between York and Harrogate.
The Press will be reporting live from today’s meeting at County Hall in Northallerton and providing regular updates, so keep following this story throughout the day.