ECO-WARRIORS may be returning to North Yorkshire this summer, following action last year which left police with a £3.8 million bill.

The news came as North Yorkshire Police Authority was told by the Home Office it may have to foot part of that bill.

Alex Harvey, spokeswoman For Camp for Climate Action, said the group would be holding another event between August 14 and 21.

She said the location had yet to be confirmed, but refused to rule out a return to Drax, saying their target would be a site "related to the aviation, coal or oil industry".

She said: "We felt last year's event was a really successful few days.

"In terms of action against Drax, we felt the response was quite heavy-handed, but we still felt what we achieved was impressive.

"And Drax has now announced it's to cut CO2 emissions by one million tonnes per year."

Police had applied to the Home Office for a Special Police Grant to cover the costs of Operation Harmony, in which seven forces were drafted in to stop Britain's biggest coal fired power station being shut down by protesters.

The police authority had been given "informal indications" from the Home Office that it would have to pay the entire £3.8 million.

But now it is likely that at least some of the cost will be recovered.

Joanna Carter, North Yorkshire Police's director of finance, said: "At the moment, the questions are more around how much we are likely to recover from the Government."

The police authority said it would normally have expected to contribute one per cent of its revenue budget - or £1.3 million - and the Home Office would cover the remaining cost.

But a number of other forces have also applied for funding for major operations.

Ms Carter said she had been reassured that North Yorkshire Police would be treated equally to other forces, despite having £25 million in reserves.

She said there had been concerns that other forces may be given priority because they did not have the reserves to pay the bills themselves.

3% - cop that

TAXPAYERS in North Yorkshire will foot a three per cent rise in the police precept on their council tax bill.

Members of the North Yorkshire Police Authority, who are responsible for setting the annual budget, voted in favour of the increase at the annual budget meeting yesterday.

The rise means the average band D council tax payer will pay £185.40 - an extra £5.40 per household next year.

Members approved a total net budget of £127.6 million for the force in the 2007/2008 financial year.

But police said the increase would still leave a shortfall of more than £5 million, which would have to be met through savings and reserves.

Treasurer John Kirman said: "We cannot forever go robbing from reserves."

He said meeting funding needs next year would be an "enormous challenge".

But Coun Bill Hoult said: "We are sending a message out to people that we are trying to keep costs down."

Coun Ruth Potter said: "Increasing the precept by more than inflation is simply not sustainable in the long-term."

The rise was approved despite overwhelming opposition from the public during a month-long public consultation.

About 85 per cent of people said the precept increase should be three per cent or less, with 66 per cent saying they would prefer it to be even lower.

Police authority clerk Jeremy Holderness said: "It has become absolutely clear there are three issues impacting on people's willingness to pay an increase in the precept."

He said they were the ability to pay, the force's huge amount of reserves, and "the high-profile spending decisions that have been splashed across the media in the last 12 months" - a reference to a £28,000 bathroom in the chief constable's office at HQ in Newby Wiske.

The reserves peaked at £35 million last year, but are expected to be £25 million by next month.

Most of the money has been allocated and they will stand at £9.4 million by 2012 - and that is needed to cover contingencies.

Coun Irene Waudby called on North Yorkshire Police to use the increase in taxpayer funding to boost officer visibility in the York area.

The county's taxpayers have been faced with record-breaking increases in previous years. In 2003, households were asked for an extra 76 per cent.

Authority chief aims to strike balance

The force's budget for 2007/2008 is an increase of £4.5 million.

Jane Kenyon, chairman of the North Yorkshire Police Authority said: "As we are seeing nationally, the police service is facing increasing demands on budgets and will do so even more in the future.

"This budget tries to strike a balance between people's ability to pay for increases in council tax and the need for the service to develop to meet customer need and expectations. We are keeping the council tax increase to the rate of inflation by asking the force to find around £6 million in efficiency savings and by using £3.4 million of our reserves.

"During our consultation on this, people made it very clear to us that they had no appetite for above inflation increases in council tax - and we have of course listened.

"However, we also have a duty to ensure the service has the resources it needs to meet people's expectations of it, and their expectations for development in the future. We hope this budget strikes that balance."