YORK and North Yorkshire’s £1.4 billion new incinerator has started treating household waste.

The milestone was reached at the massive Allerton Waste Recovery Park, situated between York and Knaresborough, as it is gradually being commissioned.

Household waste collected in North Yorkshire, which would previously have been sent to landfill, was delivered to the complex near the A1 last week, said a spokeswoman.

She said that during coming months, the plant would be fully tested and the amount of waste being treated would gradually be increased until it became fully operational early next year.

“When it is operating at full capacity, the facility will divert more than 230,000 tonnes of North Yorkshire’s and City of York’s household waste away from landfill, reducing the total amount being landfilled by more than 90 per cent,” she said.

“It will also export 24MW of electricity every hour to the National Grid – enough to power the equivalent of 40,000 homes.”

She said construction of the incinerator began in January 2015 with the excavation of more than 55,000 tonnes of earth to create the waste bunkers and more than 700 people had been employed in the construction programme.

Mark James, construction manager at the site, said: “This is a really exciting time, after nearly three years of construction we are ready to start treating waste.”

Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member for environment at City of York Council, said the news marked a ‘big step forward'.

He added: “We’ll continue to do everything we can to help York’s residents reduce the amount of waste produced and recycle more.

“This plant, through mechanical sorting and ‘digestion’ of organic waste, will help to avoid landfill whilst also producing energy.”

Cllr Andrew Lee, executive member for waste management at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “This is the start of a new era of waste treatment for the county which will see us moving away from landfill operations and instead utilise household waste as a resource to generate energy.”

*A £3 million waste transfer station recently opened at Harewood Whin, Rufforth, near York, capable of sorting 75,000 tonnes of rubbish a year from households across the York and Selby districts before being sent on to the incinerator.