A FRESH decision will be made on whether a controversial £23.5 million green energy plant between York and Selby can be built, after a council error led to the High Court quashing its planning approval.

Peel Environmental’s plans for an anaerobic digestion plant – using organic waste to produce power for about 3,500 homes – and horticultural glasshouses on the former North Selby Mine site, on green belt land near Deighton, got the go-ahead from City of York Council in April, but councillors must now debate the scheme again.

The High Court acted following a subsequent claim by Samuel Smith’s Brewery and the North Selby Mine Action Group. The authority said a report by officials on the scheme which went before its planning committee was “technically incorrect”, stemming from the council’s outstanding enforcement notice on the site requiring existing buildings and machinery to be removed.

Officers’ advice to the committee did not consider the impact the anaerobic digestion facility would have on the green belt in the context of these buildings having first been demolished, meaning the council did not contest the High Court claim.

Their new recommendation on Peel’s application must consider the green belt impact of the plant being built on a cleared site. The council said any extra costs will be “minimal”, a new application will not be needed and a decision may be made next month.

Peel says the scheme will create 56 full-time and 50 seasonal roles and boost York’s economy by about £2.2 million a year. It drew 362 objections and opposition from local MPs Julian Sturdy and Nigel Adams, over claims it would ruin the green belt.

“We were disappointed the council ignored public opinion and it has been proved by the High Court that the decision was made on the wrong information, so we believe the planning rules have supported the views of the local community,” said action group spokesman Tim Williams.

“Legal action was taken because we felt it was important for the law to be upheld, and the original planning decision needs to be reviewed. Putting this plant in the middle of a rural community is totally inappropriate.”

Peel Environmental’s development manager Richard Barker said: “We are supportive of the council’s decision not to contest the legal challenge and to quash the planning consent.

“The challenge relates to a legal technicality and this course of action will enable the application to be redetermined as quickly as possible. Earlier this year councillors backed our proposal, we have since been working hard to deliver the project and we remain committed to the development.”

Brewery’s list of legal wrangles

SAMUEL Smith’s Brewery’s part in the legal action against the North Selby Mine proposals is the latest in a line of wrangles the company has been involved in.

They include:

• A legal battle over the central car park in Tadcaster, which Selby District Council wants to resurface. The brewery requested leave to appeal against a High Court decision that the council’s plans, part of a wider regeneration scheme, could go ahead, having asked for planning permission to be quashed. However, the council has confirmed this request for an appeal has been declined.

• Last year, the brewery lost in the High Court and the Court of Appeal in its bid to prevent seven pylons being built on land in the Toulston area, east of Tadcaster. It had claimed the two-kilometre scheme, designed to improve electricity supplies, would harm the landscape.

• In 2011, a trademark dispute between Samuel Smith’s and Cropton Brewery over the use of the white rose on beer bottles went to the High Court. A judge said Cropton must not use the emblem on its Warrior beer, but made no order of damages.

• In 2009, the Court of Appeal threw out the brewery’s bid to block development on the former Gascoigne Wood colliery site near Sherburn-in-Elmet. The brewery claimed buildings which were to be converted should instead be demolished.