Leeds incinerator campaign defeated

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Calls for Leeds City Council to reconsider its decision to build an incinerator to deal with household rubbish have been defeated.

The council has appointed Veolia Environmental Services Aurora as its preferred bidder to build and operate the power-generating plant at the former wholesale market site, Cross Green, to tackle waste that cannot be recycled.

But Green councillors on Leeds City Council, supported by Liberal Democrats, urged a meeting of the full council to refer the decision back to the authority’s executive board for reconsideration. They were defeated by 55 votes to 18 with 13 abstentions.

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Coun David Blackburn (Green, Farnley and Wortley) said: “To go for incineration is the worst decision the council has made for years.

“Future generations will be left with an environmental and economic problem because we have not thought it through properly.”

Coun Ralph Pryke (Lib Dem, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill) said there had been no proper consideration about sending domestic waste to an incinerator Biffa planned to build in the lower Aire Valley.

While the Cross Green plant is proposed to help the council avoid escalating landfill taxes, Coun Pryke warned an incineration tax could be introduced.

He added: “The system is loaded in favour of large-scale technologies that can only be delivered by a small number of companies.”

Coun John Procter (Con, Wetherby) took a swipe at Labour councillors Mick Lyons (Temple Newsam), Katherine Mitchell (Temple Newsam), Ron Grahame (Burmantofts and Richmond Hill) and Asghar Khan (Burmantofts and Richmond Hill) who left the council chamber before the debate started, accusing them of a lack of political courage.

They returned minutes after the vote was taken to cheers, jeers and ironic applause from the opposition benches.

Coun Mark Dobson (Lab, Garforth and Swillington), the council’s executive member for environmental services, defended the incinerator decision as the right one and argued there was not enough time to consider a change.

Noting landfill taxes would cost the council £16m a year by 2013, he said: “If we don’t deliver on the timescale mapped out we will put this council is financial jeopardy.”