PROTESTERS wore face masks as they staged a mass demonstration against the proposed siting of a hazardous waste incinerator near their homes.

Members of North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee were met by the demonstrators as they inspected the proposed site at Marston Business Park, on the outskirts of Tockwith. The controversy over the planning application has been rumbling on for the last two years.

Protesters say the incinerator could release toxic emissions while BCB – the company that wants to build it – says there is no danger for residents and that the Environment Agency, one of the most stringent regulators in Europe, is happy with the plans.

Yesterday, about 300 adults and children from the village donned protest T-shirts and masks to make their feelings clear to county councillors.

Paddy Gastrell, chairman of the Tockwith Residents’ Association said: “We are concerned about the potential impact on health and having such a process going on so close to the village plus there will be a large chimney which will impact the landscape for miles around.”

Mr Gastrell said the village and its primary school were all downwind of the proposed incinerator. “We wanted to show the councillors that everybody in the village from adults to children is totally opposed to the application.”

BCB maintains that the proposed incinerator is safe. They point to the Environment Agency which, since the height of the proposed chimney was raised to 40m, has said it has no objections to the scheme.

A spokesman for BCB said: “It is irresponsible scaremongering to suggest that BCB is likely to poison people – it’s not. The Environment Agency, which has got the strictest regime in Europe if not the world, wouldn’t allow it to do so.”

He said the plant would use state-of-the-art treatment to process up to 60,000 tonnes of waste and so help prevent landfill. In addition, the process will generate enough energy to power around 10,000 homes.