A CONTROVERSIAL £1.4bn energy from waste incinerator scheme is set to be operational in 18 months after builders constructing the huge plant said key elements had been completed.

Eighteen months after construction began, 680,000 hours of work by up to 390 people at any one time has been undertaken at Allerton Waste Recovery Park, the new waste treatment facility for North Yorkshire and York.

The scheme, which North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council project will save taxpayers £250m over the 25-year life of its contract with waste management company Amey, was passed in 2014 following a lengthy and bitter battle with campaigners.

The facility overlooking A1(M) near Knaresborough will divert waste from landfill and use it to generate energy. When operational, it will reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill to less than ten per cent of that collected, enabling the councils to exceed their targets of recycling 50 per cent of waste by 2020.

More than 5,600 tonnes of steelwork, alongside two 158-tonne energy from waste boilers and the anaerobic digestion tank have been installed, while the treatment technology building is set to be completed and work to erect the energy from waste stack is set to begin in September.

Waste left after recyclable materials have been removed will be treated to produce enough electricity to power 40,000 homes.

The facility is on schedule to be operational by the end of January 2018.

Mark James, construction manager, said: “Parts of the building are now at their full height so people passing by will be able to get an idea of the size and shape. It is really exciting to see it coming together.”