OPPONENTS of a planned renewable energy site in North Yorkshire have welcomed the changes announced by developers.

UK Coal, owners of the North Selby Mine site, near Escrick, had planned to build a £30 million renewable energy plant, including a gasification plant, with developers Peel Environmental and Science City York.

As reported in The Press this week, Science City York announced it was withdrawing from the development, and UK Coal said a new approach, without the gasification plant, would be taken to public consultation later this year.

Campaigner Mark Oldridge, from the North Selby Mine Action Group, said: “There’s still some way to go. Despite Peel and UK Coal losing their major business partner they intend to push on with it against local opposition from MPs and the local community.”

He claimed a number of smaller “anaerobic digestion” sites in the region did not have enough waste in their local area to make them viable, and some were bringing it in from as far as Birmingham.

He said: “Why build it somewhere there’s not enough material?”

Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty, also welcomed the news.

He said: “In an ideal world, residents would like the site returned to agricultural land, but I understand that something may have to be built on the site. We’ll wait to see what the plans are, but anaerobic digestion is certainly more preferable than incineration.

“I’ve also encouraged Peel to look at solar power as an alternative to gasification when I met with them some weeks back.

“I understand they are looking at that in Stillingfleet, but whether that’s still in the pipeline with them, I don’t know.”

Mr Oldridge said: “We are pleased that Science City has recognised the weight of public opposition, both to their involvement in the scheme and to the plans for the site generally. Their withdrawal demonstrates clearly that UK Coal’s attempts to avoid returning the site to agriculture are merely a cost saving measure, and have nothing to do with creating a so called, renewable energy centre.”

Richard Lane, spokesman for York Residents Against Incineration, said: “This is exactly the right thing to do. Incineration as a technology is yesterday’s news, and it was never clear why Science City York wanted to endorse it, except possibly as a means to fund their planned renewables research centre.”