Herefordshire & Worcestershire Action Group
11th December 2012: immediate
Council to review decision on incinerator but will ‘risk’ £1.8 million on site works
Worcestershire County Council have postponed a decision on whether to go ahead with a giant waste incinerator at Hartlebury as it has revealed that the cost would be taken to around £1billion; a claim made by objectors for many months.
This would mean an extra £6 million per year being taken from other council budgets. If the present contractors are unable to reduce the costs of PFI financing, the Council may ask for tenders from other companies and look at other cheaper financing options.
However, despite delaying the decision on the incinerator, the Council intends to agree on Thursday (13th December) to ‘risk’ spending £1.8 million on preparing the site whatever the outcome. Campaigners have criticised this as a shocking waste of money at a time of severe cutbacks. The site is also believed to be contaminated with methane and other gases, and could be potentially dangerous. This also raises questions about its valuation and purchase by Worcestershire County Council, who paid in excess of £4 million, whilst having knowledge of these issues.
Taxpayers who support Herefordshire and Worcestershire Action Group have welcomed the delay but said that the opportunity now exists for a review of much cheaper, greener ways of processing the waste, and creating renewable energy. The Council’s proposals for cheaper finance for the incinerator would shave a small amount off the huge price of burning waste but it could still work out at more than 3 times the cost of cheaper options used by other councils.
Taxpayers are calling on the Council to look at better cheaper methods of dealing with waste by using outside companies to obtain better value for money. Some councils are paid for their recycled waste. Aluminium cans sell for up to £800 per tonne (pt), paper about £100pt and even broken glass is used to make fibre glass insulation. So why pay £136pt to burn it? Diverting this waste from landfill and increasing recycling could pay huge dividends. Millions of pounds could also be saved by collecting food and garden waste separately and sending it to Anaerobic Digestion (AD) or composting for around £40pt, again much cheaper that £136pt to burn.
Quite rightly, burning plastic could soon be banned and an incineration tax could replace landfill tax. Incinerator capacity is growing and so the plant could soon become uneconomical. Waste going to landfill is falling. So why do we really need an incinerator?
A spokesperson from Herefordshire & Worcestershire Action Group, Rob Wilden, said:
“ The council’s failure to run their integrated waste management project has resulted in 60 variations costing over £49 million pounds to date. How can they justify this sort of spend? It is unbelievable that the cabinet intend to press ahead with ground works costing £1.8 million whilst cutting similar amounts from the severely disabled, in addition to other services such as libraries and bus services. Both councils are slashing over £100 million from services.
No comprehensive financial risk assessment is available for the incinerator project, as was the case with the Virgin West Coast train line debacle. Sadly there is no Richard Branson here and so yet again we urge the cabinet members not to support this disastrous proposal without knowing all the facts. It is their obligation to protect the public purse. Local authorities should not be engaging in speculative high risk commercial ventures.’