Newly-elected West Midlands MEP James Carver is set to meet with campaigners fighting against controversial plans to build a mass-burn incinerator in Worcestershire.
The UKIP MEP is planning to meet with opponents of the incinerator which Worcestershire County Council recently voted to plough ahead with despite a wealth of evidence being presented by action groups showing that clean, less expensive treatments methods are available.
Mr Carver, who was elected as an MEP in May, said he is deeply concerned by the scheme following questions raised by the council’s own financial advisors over the incinerator’s value for money aspects.
For a number of years action groups have petitioned the council stating that councils elsewhere in the country have dismissed mass-burn incineration as out-dated and too expensive.
Wakefield Council, for example, rejected incineration and predicted whole life costs of £795 million for its cleaner alternatives. This information (provided under an FOI) has already been presented to Worcestershire County Council. By comparison WCC have stated that its own Incinerator-based Project will cost £1.6 Billion over the same period
Norfolk County Council recently discovered their own plan for incineration would cost £105 per tonne against an average of £78 per tonne for managing waste.
Again this information was presented to WCC who later declared it would be paying much more than Norfolk at a cost of £123 per tonne. Based on the extra that WCC are happy to spend against this average cost, the result will be over £9million per annum wasted.
Frustrated by this apparent disregard for public monies, a campaign group questioned whether the council had factored in future additional costs such as the planned EU Carbon Tax (the incinerator will emit over 168,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year); or plans by the EU to ban burning recyclable or biodegradable materials (68% of the waste proposed to be burned is in fact biodegradable).
Amazingly, the council responded by stating that it had not considered these, and would not be factoring in the extra costs.
With no questions asked as to Value for Money, the Public Works Loan Board will now loan the Council over £160 million of public money to finance this incinerator.
This finance route also avoids proper scrutiny by any Commercial Bank, or by the Waste Infrastructure Delivery Programme (WIDP). Defra have stated that they will not be scrutinising the business case as this incinerator scheme is no longer a PFI one. There is no one it seems responsible for proper accountability.
The council revealed under a Freedom of Information Request that only the options of landfill or mass burn incineration had been considered. The reason to not properly investigate those options being used and planned by other councils is unclear.
Recently Birmingham City Council, who are almost at the end of their 25 year incinerator contract, declared that the Tyseley Incinerator was restricting their attempts to improve recycling and was a major source of emissions, they now realise they could cut costs and are planning for change by dramatically reducing incineration.
Due to the rural location of this incinerator there are no viable users for the heat and the take off for any electricity is questionable.
MEP James Carver said: “I plan to meet with campaigners opposed to this scheme which would be chasing rubbish to burn throughout the country and may never be financially viable.
“The County Councils should explore all options. I will do everything in my power to stand up for the interests of residents of Herefordshire and Worcestershire.”