The North Selby Anaerobic Digestion & Horticultural Glasshouse Project is back on track after suffering a planning reverse at the hands of local campaigners.
The original plans, on the site of a former mine pit head, were approved by York City Council last April (HW, 10 May 2013) but quashed in September following a campaign by the North Selby Mine Action Group.
The campaigners cited the scale of the development, the level of traffic that it would generate and the absence of "special circumstances" to justify the development on green belt land.
However, plans that were resubmitted by developer Peel Environment have since been approved by the local authority, which noted that the horticultural use was appropriate for green belt land, according to the National Planning Policy Framework, and that the impact of the energy use would be mitigated by landscaping.
It also took into account the support for waste reduction and renewable energy, and anaerobic digestion in particular, in national policy. The site also has a national grid connection and good transport links, it noted. Cumulatively, these factors met the "special circumstances" test, it found.
However, Peel Environment surveyor Kieran Tames told Grower: "Because the project is on green belt land, it still has to go the National Planning Casework Unit."
He added: "It's not been raised yet - we are waiting for a piece of paper before we can go ahead."
The proposed tomato glasshouse development would cover more than 5ha and would employ around 50 staff, with additional seasonal labour.
The anaerobic digestion facility will function as a combined heat and power unit, treating up to 60,000 tonnes a year of agricultural and food waste, and producing up to 2.75MW of electricity as well as heat for the glasshouses and local homes. The development is expected to cost £23.5m.