Leeds City Council has signed a contract with Veolia to build and run the city’s planned incinerator.
Council bosses say that officially awarding the contract to Veolia ES Aurora Ltd marks another milestone in the council’s plans to deal with waste and push up recycling rates.
The proposed plant, which will generate electricity and is officially called a recycling and energy recovery facility, is to be built on the former wholesale market site in Cross Green.
Supporters of the scheme argue it will provide Leeds with a long-term solution to waste going to landfill.
Opponents argue the site is too close to homes and say there are better alternatives to incineration to deal with the waste.
The council’s landfill tax bill last year was £9.2 million and this is set to increase by around £1.5 million every year.
The 25-year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project will cost the council a total of about £460m.
It is estimated the incinerator will save the council £200 million over the 25 years compared to the costs of continuing to landfill household waste.
If planning permission is granted - the application is due to be determined by the council next year – all of Leeds’ black bin waste will be sorted at the facility to remove metal, paper, cardboard and plastics for recycling.
Up to 214,000 tonnes of waste a year will be sorted at the facility and leftover waste will be burned under tightly controlled conditions.
During this process enough electricity will be made to power 20,000 homes.
Neil Evans, the council’s director of environment and neighbourhoods, said: “As part of the council’s overall waste strategy, the facility will play a big part in increasing recycling and moving Leeds away from burying waste in landfill.
“Signing the contract was the next step in our timetable to provide the city with a long-term solution that turns waste into a valuable resource.”
Jerome Le Conte, Veolia’s chief executive officer, said: “This remarkable facility reflects our strategic commitment to the UK market.
“And our sustainable development approach that is reflected in the construction of new waste treatment and energy recovery plants delivering exceptional environmental performance,”
Building work on the plant is due start in summer 2013, and working by 2016. A spokesman from No Incinerator Leeds said signing a contract at this stage was “wrong on all fronts.”