BUILDERS are now on the site of a controversial massive waste incinerator plant west of York after years of wrangling.

Work has begun at the Allerton Waste Recovery Plant (AWRP), at Allerton Park near Knaresborough, after years of environmental objections and funding rows.

The project is a joint venture between City of York Council and North Yorkshire County Council, and councillors from both authorities were on site for a ground breaking ceremony on Monday.

York deputy council leader Tracey Simpson-Laing said: "This is the largest capital investment City of York Council has ever procured and we’re proud to be marking this ‘ground breaking’ milestone with everyone who has helped to make this happen.

“This is a fantastic example of how partnership working has really come together. AWRP will create a huge boost for our economy and for our region - creating hundreds of jobs for construction and operation, whilst significantly reducing the amount of waste going to landfill and helping to increase our recycling performance over and above the 44 percent York residents already do.”

The two councils say the multi million pound scheme will save them around £250 million on household waste treatment costs over the 25 years contract with operating company AmeyCepsa The plant was granted planning permission in October 2012, but looked under threat when DEFRA cancelled funding deals worth £65 million just months later.

But late last year UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) put £33 million into the project, and other backing came from Aberdeen UK Infrastructure Partners and Equitix putting it back on track.

The project also saw off a legal battle from campaigners and Marton cum Grafton Parish Council, and opposition from local MPs and Harrogate Borough Council.

North Yorkshire's County Cllr Chris Metcalfe added: "AWRP will treat the household waste left over after recycling and composting – and some commercial waste from local businesses and offices - through anaerobic digestion and energy from waste incineration.

"It will result in a significant reduction in North Yorkshire’s and York’s ‘carbon footprint’ and produce enough electricity to power a town the size of Harrogate”.