Villagers appeal for help to halt plans to truck ash waste near primary school and homes

Villagers appeal for help to halt plans to truck ash waste near primary school and homesVillagers are mounting a legal challenge against plans to extract millions of tonnes of fly ash, which are stored on a 300-hectare site at Gale Common

Despite objections from more than 1,100 residents, North Yorkshire county councillors voted narrowly in favour of plans last November to extract and export some 23m tonnes of ash from a 108-hectare man-made hill at Gale Common. The scheme close to the villages of Womersley, Whitley, Great Heck and Cridling Stubbs aims to provide pulverised ash waste originally from Ferrybridge and Eggborough power stations for use in the construction industry.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However locals remain concerned about the impact of thousands of HGVs on the “young and vulnerable” of Whitley, including pupils attending Whitley and Eggborough Primary School and Sticky Fingers nursery, and are trying to get the plans halted. Whitley parish council has already spent thousands of pounds engaging solicitors and a barrister to review the case.

A judge has approved the application for a judicial review, saying the case is of significant legal interest and would be fast-tracked for trial. Although Whitley parish council is mounting the challenge, it is backed by three other parish councils and members of Gale Common Action Group. Whitley parish councillor Tim Woodhead said: “The objections have always hinged around the environmental and human costs, which include the potential harm to the young and vulnerable of Whitley from the 266 HGV movements through the village for six days a week over 25 years.

“The costs are quite considerable but Whitley parish council an d other parish councils feel we have to make a stand.” The group has set up a JustGiving page which has raised GBP700 so far. They hope to raise GBP8,000 by the end of October.

It had been hoped that an alternative mode of transport could be found, potentially using a conveyor belt and barges to transport the ash on the nearby canal network. The JustGiving page states: “All local concerns, along with our pleas for greener, more sustainable extraction and transport options were rejected by North Yorkshire County Council planning. “We believe the process and decision making was fundamentally flawed.”

The developers have previously said the scheme will create over 40 jobs and add GBP4m to the economy. The ash can be used road construction, creating embankments or in cement and breeze blocks. The planning meeting was told using HGVs was the only realistic option.