A HUGE new incinerator has become fully operational this week.

The Allerton Waste Recovery Park near Knaresborough can generate enough energy to power 40,000 homes a year, burning up to 320,000 household waste and diverting more than 90 per cent of waste from landfill, while also increasing recycling.

The site started up in earnest this month following a test period, and is operated by Amey under a partnership between North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council to deal with waste over the next 25 years, with most of the rubbish coming from households in North Yorkshire and York.

County Councillor Andrew Lee, Executive member for waste management, said: "The facility is a step forward in the way the county treats its waste, by turning it into a resource and recovering energy from it – helping the UK to become less reliant on gas and coal for electricity

"Allerton Park is an important part of our plan for maximising the benefit from waste well into the future. It is not intended as an alternative to kerbside recycling by district councils or recycling through the county council’s 22 household waste recycling centres. Those remain the best ways to recycle. But Allerton Park enables us to extract the last few remaining items of recyclable material."

The park separates recyclable materials from organic materials, with 40,000 tonnes of the latter fed into an anaerobic digester each year to create renewable energy. The remaining waste is burned to generate electricity, with byproducts recycled into aggregate for roads and reprocessed metal.

Developers said treating waste at the park instead of sending it to landfill would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of taking 12,000 cars off the road overnight.

Councillor Andrew Waller, acting leader and Executive member for the Environment at City of York Council, said the authority would still encourage residents to reduce waste and recycle more, but the park was "a very effective and positive way to minimise the impact of non-recyclable waste".

He said: "During the commissioning and testing, we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill and a benefit that some material going there is being recycled and reused. It saves money on expensive landfill taxes and even produces energy which we can sell back into the national grid."

The public can visit the facility, by booking at allerton-waste-recovery-park.co.uk