Leeds's burning issue

Leeds City Council is pressing ahead with public consultations over plans for an incinerator to help deal with the city's growing mountains of waste.

The council currently disposes of most of its domestic waste by burying it in landfill sites.

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But the practice is becoming increasingly expensive as fewer and fewer sites are available.

Waste sent to landfill is also taxed.

A council spokesman said: "We are working hard to reduce the amount of waste that we bury in the ground as landfill.

"There are a large number of people that don't have a recycling collection, but we are taking steps to make sure that everybody in Leeds can recycle waste by April 2011."

The council faces a massive disposal problem for waste and it proposes to solve the problem by commissioning a firm to operate an incinerator. The project will also use the heat created to produce energy.

The council invited tenders from firms to build and operate an incinerator, and narrowed the number who came forward down to two, on two different sites. Aire Valley Environmental are proposing to build a facility at the current Knostrop sewage treatment site in south east Leeds. Veolia ES Aurora Ltd are proposing to build a facility on the site of the former wholesale market at Pontefract Lane on Cross Green industrial estate in east Leeds.

Public consultations are being held in communities surrounding the two sites.

The next will take place at Rothwell Methodist Church on Butcher Lane on Tuesday, January 18, from noon to 8pm.

Susan Upton, head of waste management for Leeds City Council, said: "We want local people to express their opinions and find out as much as possible about what this scheme is all about.

"Their views are vital to informing how the two bids are put together and for their concerns to be addressed by the bidders."

The council is not expecting to choose a bidder and site until the summer of this year. It then faces a lengthy process involving planning and further consultations.

A decision on planning permission is expected in autumn, 2012, followed by the start of construction.

The facility is expected to go into operation in summer or autumn of 2015.

Anyone unable to attend the sessions can visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/recycleforleeds