CONTROVERSIAL plans for a £1.4bn waste park and incinerator have moved closer to being launched, after the Government has decided not to hold a public inquiry.

The Department of Communities and Local Government has confirmed it will not call in the North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council plan to create a site at Allerton Park, near Knaresborough, to deal with up to 320,000 tonnes of rubbish a year.

County council leader Councillor John Weighell said he was delighted with the decision, but the scheme at the site alongside the A1 would be put on hold until after the outcome of a possible challenge from objectors.

He said: "We never really doubted that this would be the situation." County councillor highways chief and Thirsk councillor Gareth Dadd said both the planning and business cases for the incinerator had been compelling.

He said: “I am very pleased that local democracy has prevailed.”

Objectors to the scheme had said they were confident Communities Secretary Eric Pickles would hold a Planning Inspectorate hearing into the scheme, which is due to start processing waste in 2015.

Bob Schofield, spokesman for North Yorkshire Waste Action Group, said it would examine every possible avenue to block the scheme, which they say is too big, too expensive and environmentally unsustainable.

Mr Schofield said: “This is extremely disappointing, particularly as Eric Pickles has called in other incinerator schemes.

“We have been discussing the possibility of a judicial review. We don’t feel North Yorkshire County Council has engaged with the public about the financial side of the scheme.

“The council has let down its own electorate at a time when services are being cut back and by dropping this scheme it could be saving money.”

North Yorkshire County Council's planning committee approved the scheme in October after years of debate, thousands of objections and an eight-hour meeting.

Developers AmeyCespa, which has a 25-year contract to treat the county's waste, say the incinerator will use up-to-date technology and will save money, including landfill taxes, generate electricity, help meet recycling targets and could heat nearby homes.