TWO villages near York have united in opposition to a £23.5 million green energy plant as a second decision-day draws closer.

Peel Environmental won planning permission for an anaerobic digestion facility to turn organic waste into power for about 3,500 homes on the North Selby Mine site near Deighton, Wheldrake and Escrick in April. But this was quashed in September following a legal challenge by campaigners and Samuel Smith’s Brewery.

An error in a report by council planners meant the City of York Council planning committee which approved the scheme was given incorrect information. Peel’s application must now be debated again, with a decision expected in February.

The company says 56 full-time and 50 seasonal jobs, and more than 250 construction roles, will be created and about £2 million will be injected annually into the local economy with carbon emissions also being cut.

The original application drew 362 objections, with local MPs Julian Sturdy and Nigel Adams opposing it, and 61 more have been lodged against the renewed application, including from Escrick and Wheldrake parish councils.

In a letter to planners, Wheldrake council said it recognised more environmentally-friendly ways of dealing with waste were needed, but Peel’s scheme was “inappropriate” in the green belt because of the buildings’ likely size and noise and light pollution. It said traffic problems would be caused by “significant movements of vehicles” taking waste and employees to the site.

Escrick council said: “Associated lighting and noise emissions will be of an industrial scale in a rural environment – the York green belt has historically performed an important function in preserving the setting of the city, and there have been no exceptional circumstances demonstrated in this application to overturn this principle.”

A consultants’ report commissioned by Tim Williams, of the North Selby Mine Action Group, claimed the methods used to assess “noise-related impact” from the site were flawed and did not reflect the effect it would have on nearby homes. The £17.5 million plant would be accompanied by a £6 million horticultural glasshouse.

Peel said the scheme would reduce Co2 emissions by about 20,000 tonnes a year, add only 1.5 per cent to the A19’s traffic, and have measures screening it from neighbouring villages and farms to prevent light pollution.

If approved, demolition work on former mine buildings would start by the end of March, construction of the anaerobic digestion facility would begin by autumn, and the plant would be operational in 2016.