The Incinerator that came back from the dead!
Plans to send waste from York and North Yorkshire to an incinerator at Allerton Park appeared to have unravelled after a shock announcement from DEFRA in February 2013 that PFI credits would not be available for the scheme.
But out of the blue, in September 2014 it was announced that the Councils would proceed with Financial Close on the project, with a whole raft of financial and legal engineering cobbled together to replace the missing millions.
Despite huge public opposition including several protests and the largest petition ever to come before the Councils, North Yorkshire County Council approved the plans (by 38 votes to 17) on Thursday September 25th and York followed suit (by 39 votes to 3) on October 9th. Read the news story for more on the meeting.
All avenues to stop the incinerator failed and construction began, several years behind schedule, in March 2015.
The Councils have been working on these plans since 2002. During this time the ‘zero waste’ policy that we’ve been championing since 2006 has been steadily gaining ground, and waste volumes have continued to fall, in spite of the predictions of the waste strategy teams.
The contract will cost a projected £1.4 billion over its lifetime. With Council tax rises capped, City of York Council now has to find an extra £750,000 of cuts each year to pay for this. And all for a plan which looks woefully out of date – and unnecessary – even before the first brick has been laid.
The Yorkshire Incinerator story in brief…
York and North Yorkshire Councils teamed up back in 2003 to commission a waste incinerator. The process has been conducted behind closed doors, with little consultation or accountability. Even the Council admitted that the public consultation was a failure. Hardly anyone saw it, and both options presented involved… building an incinerator!
At the last minute, before the change of government, the Waste Partnership managed to secure a £65 million PFI loan, and on June 29th 2010 they announced the plans for the incinerator.
The plan was conceived at a time when recycling 60% of our waste seemed – to the officers devising it – totally improbable. Yet 68% is happening elsewhere in the UK now, and it will happen here soon. We are in the middle of a revolution in waste management, but this plan is stuck firmly in the mid-20th century.
The plans were rubberstamped by both Councils at the end of 2010. The planning application to build the thing was passed by North Yorkshire County Council on Tuesday 30th October by 9 votes to 2, and on January 30th it was announced that there would be no public inquiry.
Incineration emerged as a preferred option without any democratic consultation in 2005, and despite the pre-election pledges of the ruling York Lib Dems, it proved unstoppable. The plan will cost York and North Yorkshire around £1.4bn over its lifetime. A zero-waste strategy – which is what we would like to see – has never been costed.
You can read more on this site about what’s wrong with the plans, why we don’t like incinerators (and what we’d do instead), and how we got to this point.