A CONTROVERSIAL £23.5 million green energy site between York and Selby should be built, city planners have said.

Proposals by Peel Environmental for an anaerobic digestion plant, which would convert organic waste into enough power for about 3,500 homes, on the North Selby Mine site near Deighton and Wheldrake have been recommended for approval when they go before City of York Council’s planning committee next week.

The final decision would rest with the Government, but planning officers have said the benefits of the scheme – including new jobs and greener energy – would outweigh any harm caused to its green belt surroundings.

Opponents claim the development should not be built in a countryside location and it will cause major traffic problems.

The planning application was originally approved last year, before a legal challenge following an error in a report by planners led to it being quashed and needing to be debated again.

Peel says the plant would employ 56 full-time and 50 seasonal workers, as well as 256 construction roles and boost the local economy by about £2 million a year while cutting annual CO2 emissions by about 20,000 tonnes.

More than 360 objections were lodged against the plans when they were originally submitted, and 60 more have been made against the renewed application, with opposition also coming from local MPs Julian Sturdy and Nigel Adams and nearby parish councils.

The North Selby Mine Action Group said “exceptional circumstances” needed to be shown for the development to be allowed in the green belt, and it was “difficult to understand” how this requirement had been met.

However, a report by council planning chief Jonathan Carr said Peel had claimed there was no other suitable site for the facility in the area, not building it would mean more waste going to landfill, and the plant would bring “significant climate change benefits”.

It said: “It is considered that, cumulatively, these amount to very special circumstances.

“The scheme would create jobs within the key growth sectors of bioscience and agri-foods, and reduce the amount of organic waste being sent to landfill.”

If approved by the council and Government, the £17.5 million plant would open in 2016 and be built alongside a £6 million horticultural glasshouse.