Delay on waste plant over cost

A DECISION on whether to press ahead with a £120 million Hartlebury incinerator has been delayed until next year amid concerns over the costs.

Worcestershire County Council has decided to investigate “alternative financing” for the controversial scheme following fears bank loans may not be value for money.

The delay was announced during a meeting last Thursday when campaigners turned up to call the scheme a “high risk and speculative” venture that should be scrapped.

But defiant members of the ruling Conservative cabinet said they were determined to approve it next year after finding the best funding model.

The waste-to-power project will power electricity to 20,000 homes and is being funded by a private finance initiative after West Mercia Waste signed a 25-year contract with the authority.

A report put before the cabinet says the deal is based on “relatively expensive bank debt financing” and needs to be reviewed. It added other options could include “institutional financing” via bonds or a pension provider, or part-borrowing from the Government.

In the meantime, the cabinet has approved spending £1.8 million on preparing the land at Hartlebury to make way for the facility.

Campaigner Rob Wilden, of Herefordshire and Worcestershire Action Group, said: “The council’s failures has resulted in 60 variations costing more than £49 million to date – how can they justify this sort of spend?

“It is unbelievable the cabinet intends to press ahead with groundworks costing £1.8 million while making cuts to services – local authorities should not be engaging in speculative high risk commercial ventures.”

The authority rejected the criticism by saying it can “no longer carry on putting waste into the ground” because of ever-increasing landfill taxes.

The new site, which will take rubbish from across Worcestershire and Herefordshire, was given consent by the Government in July.

Conservative Adrian Hardman, council leader, said: “We need to get the best possible decision on waste because the costs of what we are doing is rising and rising.

“Both counties spend £39 million a year disposing of it and landfill taxes are about to rise to £8 a tonne. All the while we are stuck where we are now, with no sustainable alternative.

“We are taking more time than I would have wished but I don’t want us to lose momentum on this – it has cross-party support of this council and we are pressing ahead to find a solution.”

The total costs of the project are being kept under wraps for commercial reasons, but council chiefs have estimated the setting up will be about £120 million.

Critics believe the total bill to taxpayers during the lifetime of the contract could reach £1 billion, but this has been rejected.

Comments (4)

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8:24am Thu 20 Dec 12

Stephen Brown says...

I quote the above article here:
"The waste-to-power project will power electricity to 20,000 homes"

This is not currently true, the planning permission was granted based on energy from waste and CHP, but they are struggling to make this happen which threatens the whole viability of the scheme.

The council seem not to understand the whole thing and hence the typical ignorant arrogance they display.

It's correct that we cannot continue to landfill, they got that bit right, but the council's approach is totally myopic and they fail to understand the cleaner, greener, cheaper alternative technologies and waste treatment management which are available.Either that or they are happy that a private company is going to make a nice little earner, thank you very much, on a 25 year £1BILLION PFI project paid for by everyone one of us.

There is going to be a £6million a year black hole if they build this thing and yesterday's announcement that Govt funding has been cut by another 1.7% just makes matters worse.

I truly believe this is incompetence on a grand scale. As football fans would sing at a bungling referee "You don't know what you're doing, you don't know what you're doing......"
I quote the above article here: "The waste-to-power project will power electricity to 20,000 homes" This is not currently true, the planning permission was granted based on energy from waste and CHP, but they are struggling to make this happen which threatens the whole viability of the scheme. The council seem not to understand the whole thing and hence the typical ignorant arrogance they display. It's correct that we cannot continue to landfill, they got that bit right, but the council's approach is totally myopic and they fail to understand the cleaner, greener, cheaper alternative technologies and waste treatment management which are available.Either that or they are happy that a private company is going to make a nice little earner, thank you very much, on a 25 year £1BILLION PFI project paid for by everyone one of us. There is going to be a £6million a year black hole if they build this thing and yesterday's announcement that Govt funding has been cut by another 1.7% just makes matters worse. I truly believe this is incompetence on a grand scale. As football fans would sing at a bungling referee "You don't know what you're doing, you don't know what you're doing......" Stephen Brown
  • Score: 0

8:02pm Thu 20 Dec 12

stour67 says...

This will be dragged on then slipped through ,even if 100 % of the public did not want it ,it would still be put through.
This will be dragged on then slipped through ,even if 100 % of the public did not want it ,it would still be put through. stour67
  • Score: 0

8:33pm Fri 21 Dec 12

damien- conservationist says...

The shuttle is a Tory owned newspaper which pretends to be impartial.
The shuttle is a Tory owned newspaper which pretends to be impartial. damien- conservationist
  • Score: 0

12:27am Sun 23 Dec 12

gypsyman says...

the shuttle is defo tory owned, lol labor all the way next time i think,
the shuttle is defo tory owned, lol labor all the way next time i think, gypsyman
  • Score: 0

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