WORK is due to start next month on a £135 million waste-to-energy plant in Keighley that will create nearly 500 jobs, it has been revealed this week.

Preparatory operations are poised to get underway at the derelict former gasworks site, alongside the Aire Valley trunk road at Marley.

Two plants for recycling waste will be built on the Airedale Road plot, together with an education and visitor centre and office accommodation.

News of the start has been welcomed by the town's MP, Kris Hopkins.

He said the scheme is "good news all round".

"I am very pleased the building phase is about to get underway," he added.

"These jobs are very important to our economy.

"The plant itself, when completed, will also deliver significant benefits in terms of energy production."

Already-processed commercial and industrial waste will be brought to the complex.

It is also planned to build a data centre and battery store in Dalton Lane.

Planning applications for those – and for changes to the energy plant cladding and a reduction in the volume of the building – are to be submitted to Bradford Council.

People are being invited to attend a consultation drop-in session at Keighley Civic Centre, in North Street, from 3pm to 7pm on Wednesday.

Plans will be on display and there will be a chance to ask questions.

Agent John Steel, of JO Steel Consulting, said: "There is planning permission in place for the plant and we are in a position to implement that, but we had a second application that was refused last year.

"Members were concerned about the cladding material and the height of the building, so those issues have been revisited."

Behind the initiative is the Halton Group, which has formed a special company – Endless Energy Ltd – to deal with the venture.

French giant CNIM is producing the plant and the 'contractor designate' is Scunthorpe-based Clugston Group.

Mr Steel said about 300 jobs will be created during the construction stage and a further 180 once the plant is operating, which could be by 2019.

"I'm delighted that Endless Energy is continuing with the plans despite the economic uncertainties we have at the moment," he added.

"It shows a confidence in the scheme and in Keighley."

But the venture has its opponents.

The Aire Valley Against Incineration group said it is "deeply concerned" about how much CO2 could be emitted by the plan, and it claimed the complex would have a negative visual impact on the area, including from nearby historic East Riddlesden Hall.

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