YORK’S council leader says crunch talks are being held with other Yorkshire authorities to try to force a Government rethink over its withdrawal of £65 million of waste funding.
City of York Council and North Yorkshire County Council say they have been left stunned and angry at the decision of the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to remove its funding for the proposed £1.4 billion incinerator at Allerton Park, between York and Knaresborough.
Defra said the site was no longer needed to meet European Union waste targets, and removed its alloted private finance initiative cash. The York authority has said it will consider legal action and the county council says it is “examining the financial and legal consequences” of the U-turn.
Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh and Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, have also criticised the move to withdraw Government support for the Allerton scheme and another incinerator project in Bradford.
City of York Council leader James Alexander said he was now in discussions with counterparts in Bradford and Calderdale about lobbying for a Government change of heart, after the authority and the county council spent millions of pounds on the scheme.
The scheme was granted planning approval last year and the Government recently confirmed it would not be called in for a public inquiry.
Ms Creagh said: “Just weeks ago, one Government department gave the North Yorkshire project the go-ahead, only for another to now pull the plug.
“Its left hand doesn’t know what its right hand is doing, and the result is chaos.
“These councils are now in limbo, and if these projects don’t go ahead, they will have to completely rethink how they deal with thousands of tonnes of waste.”
The Defra announcement has been welcomed by campaigners who opposed the incinerator plan, including Green councillors, lobby groups and Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones.
More than 10,000 people had signed a petition against the proposals.