A public meeting called by the Communities Against Toxins group heard residents of numerous villages surrounding the Allerton Park incinerator, beside the A1(M) between Boroughbridge and Knaresborough, voice both bewilderment and anger over Tynedale Roadstone Limited’s ambition.
In its planning application to North Yorkshire Council the firm has stated there would be “demand” for its materials in the area to help build and maintain road surfaces and represent a “sustainable development”.
The documents state Tynedale has various long-term supply agreements with surfacing and maintenance companies in Yorkshire, while its two asphalt plants are in Newcastle and County Durham.
The firm has claimed there would be “no significant effects” on air quality as a result of the scheme and that traffic generated by the plant was unlikely to cause any safety concerns.
Campaigner Michael Emsley told the meeting at Great Ouseburn Village Hall he had run an asphalt plant and if approved the plant would spark a threat of an explosion beside the landmark energy from waste recovery park used by North Yorkshire and York councils.
Ahead of North Yorkshire County Council approving the incinerator in 2014 there was a concerted campaign to get it rejected, backed by two MPs with protestors handing in a petition with 10,000 signatures at Downing Street.
The meeting was told the application documents ignored key issues, such as the predominant wind direction, and that many residents would be downwind of dust particles and “toxic threats” from the plant.
Mr Emsley said: “I am concerned about the human health impacts of some of the nasty materials. Benzine is a particularly horrible chemical and some of its derivatives are even nastier.
“Benzine has been long recognised as a carcinogen and recent studies have recognised the effects of continuous exposure to low concentrations of benzine both occupationally and environmentally.”
Residents heard claims the plant was likely to create contaminated water which would seep into watercourses as there was no way of processing it and lorries visiting the asphalt plant would exacerbate the existin queues of waste trucks on the A-road outside the incinerator.
The meeting heard nearly 800 objections had been lodged over the proposal, and residents of numerous villages in a five-mile radius of the site state they had been completely unaware of the proposal until recently.
Residents overwhelmingly supported a move to launch a concerted campaign, backed by crowdfunding, work to attract opposition from residents of Knaresborough and Boroughbridge and urgently seek expert advice ahead of a likely decision by the council’s strategic planning committee early next year.
The meeting heard concerns over the committee’s likely decision, given that there would be a statutory presumption on North Yorkshire Council to pass the scheme, that it would generate a large amount of business rates from the plant and some of the deciding councillors would represent divisions from many miles away.
One resident told the meeting how she and her husband had recently moved to the area to be nearer to their grandchildren in Marton cum Grafton.
She added: “We came for dark sky, the clean fresh air and now this is happening. We’re appalled, and particularly appalled that the playground for Marton cum Grafton school is so close.
“We are going to contaminate the water and the air and I can’t think of anything worse.”
The meeting heard residents of the surrounding villages had been promised the Allerton Park incinerator would not lead to further industrialisation of the rural area and claims that it would be more appropriate to site the asphalt plant in an industrial zone.