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Joint Waste Disposal Unit (with Worc CC)


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Not exactly a riveting topic I admit, but one which is likely to be in the headlines shortly.  Yesterday (Tuesday) Worc CC held a public meeting to brief its council taxpayers on why it was getting into bed with Herefordshire Council to build a PFI-funded state-of-the-art waste incinerator.  Each authority will be committed to divying up £350M for the new plant.  Herefordshire's Cabinet is due to discuss the plan tomorrow (Thursday).


What I would like to ask well-informed and knowledgable followers of The Voice is this: I was told that at one time HC considered building its own waste disposal unit at Rotherwas, as it would have produced sufficient energy from the waste's heat to be fed to the new factory units which we are told will one day grace the re-branded Skylon Park. 


This is such an emminently sensible eco-friendly idea that I think the person who told me was pulling my leg. Is there a grain of truth in this story?



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This does sound sensible - almost too sensible for our council to ever consider!

I know nothing about this Grid Knocker, but like you, would be keen to hear more. What I do think, is that after the disasters surrounding the County Hospital, I would have thought the letters PFI, would have made a chill wind run through anyone with an ounce of common sense!

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I had a briefing on just that a waste plant that would heat thousands of homes and factories in rotherwas modern technology against the proposed shared one with Worcester which is "old mans" thinking which I'm afraid happens all the time with this administration this decision will cost the county untold millions. a PFI just look at the hospital car park saga we have 12 years left with our land fill supply so why the rush,imaging where we will be in five years let alone ten with modern methods of waste management!!

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Thanks for that Jim.  Re your reference to 'old man's thinking', I was interested to find in tomorrow's Cabinet papers (now open for inspection on the Council's website folks) that our old friends KPMG were called in - at what cost, one wonders - to run their fine tooth combs over the whole fandango. Their eventual conclusuon?  "Go and seek professional advice before proceeding further with this joint-venture." 

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I couldn't type my thoughts on this, Colin would ban me!

This absolutely stinks to high heaven!

Its precisely this sort of wheeler dealing, shady back room agreements, you scratch my back I'll scratch yours attitude, that has brought about the opinion that this council can't be trusted.

Its also not a million miles away from the IT issues highlighted on the "You don't deserve Democracy" thread.

Its plain wrong.

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Please can the opposition get their ****s in a sock then. Stroll up to Sebastion and quote some Latin at him, give him an ipso facto or two followed by quo fas et gloria ducunt (that's not rude, ask Ubique, he knows what I'm on about) and tell him it's time to do the right thing by the people of Herefordshire, as you are all so keen to claim is your number one priority: that's Shire, not just city.

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Thanks one and all for your responses over the last four days.  I said it weasn't riveting - but it's fast turning out to be downright depressing.


I went out and about canvassing opinions.  I even managed to speak to a former member of the board of the Rotherwas Enterprise Zone.  The overwhelming reaction was that Herefordshire is signing up for an outdated (and hugely expensive) system, when cheaper state-of-the-art systems are available and in use by other local authorities.  Check out IOC's official website for a very well-crafted statement from 'the opposition'.


When I posed the question which I'd put up at the top of this thread at the beginning of the week (ie "Hasn't anybody thought about building a small state-of-the-art unit on one of the many cleared sites standing idle at Rotherwas, so that the energy generated could eventually be used to heat the new factories?  Three people gave the identically-same reply to the one which Dippy posted last Wednesday:  "Far too sensible!".

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Thank you Glenda. If Grid Knocker is right, and I have no reason to suggest he is not, there can be no case whatever for proceeding with this project now, or ever. If the Tories insist on it there should be some kind of obligation for the individuals who vote it through to pick up the bill themselves when it goes **** up, or at least a substantial fine. They have been told it's a bust by their own advisors so to run with it would be nothing short of irresponsible. Oh how I despise them, the arrogant fools that they are, but don't tell Nick "Nice" Nenadich I was horrid about them, he might burst into tears and storm out to find his teddy bear. According to the best web site ever, Herefordshire Council's, he's the Vice Chairman of Halo Services. Is that a service for polishing his I wonder?

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Here we go again would be my thoughts. This happens on a monthly basis ... senior members of staff securing lucrative positions in companies the Council do work with!


There needs to be a public enquiry at the very least the Audit Commission should step in. We are sitting on the edge of ruin and the madness needs to stop now before it's to late!


I think everyone who has any knowledge of any wrong doing in relation to the mis-handling of Public Funds should contact the Audit Comissioner and voice their concerns. Cllr Kenyon it's your comment you put it in the public domain and you have a duty to your ward and the public to pass that information to the Auditors. You may think that information insignificant but what people fail to realise is that when all these pieces of information are put together they make a compelling case for an investigation. 


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The appointed auditors for Herefordshire Council are Grant Thornton UK LLP.


The specific contact at GT is Phil Jones


Email: phil.w.jones@uk.gt.com Tel: 0121 232 5232


He works for government he is not controlled by the Council and it's his job to make sure our money is being handled appropriately. If there's a company or indeed an officer from Herefordshire Council that will benefit from this collaboration, then that is not only immoral it's corrupt! 


My email will hit his account first thing Monday morning and I would urge anyone with any knowledge to do the same. You won't be identified and you could hold the one piece of information we need to stop them in their tracks! 
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I've just been in a meeting with the council and was reading the article on my phone on the HT website, where I noticed that the usual cobra command of "the cabinet" have been on a mass downvoting spree, giving you all negative thumbs. Never fear though, I thumbed you up at least once to take the edge of.




(Of course by a council meeting, I do of course mean that I was taking a dump)

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Oh, that's what I was going to ask.


Can someone tell me, simply put and without any political sniping or spin or bullshit. Why an incinerator is a GOOD idea? Why would the council go for it if it's going to put them/us $40million more in debt? Surely if we have to "loan" the money, there's going to be interest attached to that? 


I'd love a Jaguar XKR, but if I don't have the money for it it, I'm certainly not going to be buying one. 

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In The Hereford Times comments 12th December 2013
Cllr Liz Harvey says...


"Apologies - long post alert … and no jokes or rants, but please persevere.
This is a complicated subject – but not a difficult one. Whilst it is not well suited to the sound-bite format of a press article, it is something which residents have the right to have explained to them in a straightforward manner. We all contribute to the creation of household waste, and we are all collectively responsible for the problem of its disposal … although it’s the council’s responsibility to see that this is actually done, day-in day-out, without fail. And this is the crux of it.
The council is 15 years into a 25 year PFI contract (ending 2023) for waste disposal jointly with Worcestershire, run by Mercia Waste, which is 50% owned by Urbaser, a well-thought-of Spanish company experienced in building and running waste incineration plants. The other half of Mercia are owned by the company which runs the two councils' waste collection contract which runs out in 2016 but could be extended to 2023 - so it's a complicated and somewhat incestuous situation.
The contract set out in 1998 requiring our waste to be disposed of by incineration (which disposes of 90%+ of our non-recyclable rubbish) so that our existing landfill sites would last for much longer. Since 1998 several attempts have been made to make this happen which for various reasons have been unsuccessful. Meanwhile, our landfill site has been being filled-up fast, energy prices have started to rocket and waste has started to become seen as an asset - a source of valuable materials rather than just a problem to be dealt with, a liability.
During the life of the contract, the rapidly increasing ‘value’ of household waste in terms of its recyclable elements and the energy (heat and electricity) which can be obtained from its disposal has encouraged investment in technology which significantly improves the sophistication with which different materials can be separated for recycling and composting. This investment has also improved the efficiency with which the heat and gases, generated when the remaining waste is burned, can be turned into electricity for the national grid and into heat for homes and businesses close to the power plant.
The dilemma facing both councils right now is whether this new technology is sufficiently reliable for the councils to RELY ON IT to dispose of our household rubbish, yours and mine, day-in day-out without fail for the next 20-30 years. Waste experts have been consulted, and have given their opinions – but most acknowledge that the newer technologies are improving very rapidly, but they are currently NOT PROVEN to the point where understandably cautious and naturally risk-averse councils can be CERTAIN they will deliver robust disposal solutions needed for household rubbish.
This picture is further complicated by the fact that the current PFI contractor builds power generating incinerators for a living and is understandably keen to be paid to build one under the current contract. This would also put them in a good place to bid for the next contract in 2023 to carry on using the still nearly new plant for the whole of its working life out to 2042 and beyond.
The decision to be made is not just about getting rid of our rubbish – it’s actually even more heavily influenced for the future by the money to be made from recycling the valuable metals and plastics in that rubbish and from generating what will be the VERY valuable power from burning what’s left. It’s Our County contends that the technological improvements increasing the money to be made from waste are moving so fast right now that it is sensible to give these the (relatively) short time they need to be PROVEN to the performance standards demanded by the councils. 
As an example, just down the road in Bristol a (jargon alert) Mechanical and Biological Treatment and Pyrolysis & Gassification Energy from Waste plant has been built over the last 2 years to handle 250,000 tonnes p.a. of household waste and to generate 13 mega-Watt hrs of electricity, with space to double its energy-generating capacity on-site. Read more about the plant here: www.neattechnology.com 
This plant is of the size and scale of that proposed by Herefordshire and Worcestershire and is built and working TODAY. It cost ~£60m to build – that’s a third of the price of the proposed incinerator at Hartlebury, and will generate more energy and reclaim more recyclable material from the waste it handles than the Hartlebury plant. In addition, the energy-generating part of the process doesn’t have to be done on the same site as the sorting, recycling, composting and shredding. Pyrolysis tubes can be located alongside business parks and employment sites, so that the heat and energy they generate can be used to provide cheap power to local businesses and homes. This is just one of a mix of full scale waste disposal options which are right on the edge of being demonstrated as robust solutions for the future.
With 10 years to run on the current PFI, It’s Our County is simply saying: Why use the site you have already earmarked by committing to an old and less efficient waste disposal solution today – albeit one which is favoured by the current contractor, when within 3 years the evidence will exist to factor into the decision-mix these more efficient next-generation technologies – opening up the possibility for residents of both counties to secure a 21st century solution to the disposal of their 21st century waste.
We have not been listened to so far, and have little hope that we can turn this decision around, as the administration seem determined to go with the single solution being pressed by Mercia Waste. Consequently, we are arguing that Herefordshire should have an exit option written into the agreement NOW with Worcestershire, which gives us the option to sell our quarter share of the incinerator plant in 2023 at the value it is currently predicted to have then. And that this option be binding on Worcestershire, should Herefordshire chose to exercise the option. That way, at least we can continue to monitor how the other technologies are evolving and can use the remaining 10 years of the PFI contract as time to design and build a plan-H for Herefordshire which can kick-in after 2023 and which we can pay for by the pegged price of our share in the incinerator.
We predict that by 2023 the incinerator will need expensive upgrades to enable it to meet future environmental and recycling targets. However, Worcestershire are so certain that this is a good idea that their scrutiny committee chairman boasted in the joint cabinet meeting on Thursday that he hasn’t even bothered to put the waste contract decision on the committee’s agenda for discussion.
We can’t secure a sensible outcome for Worcestershire, but we can do our best to mitigate the worst of the effects on Herefordshire; and try to keep the options open for the future even if minds are closed to the alternatives in front of us today".


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"This plant is of the size and scale of that proposed by Herefordshire and Worcestershire and is built and working TODAY. It cost ~£60m to build – that’s a third of the price of the proposed incinerator at Hartlebury, and will generate more energy and reclaim more recyclable material from the waste it handles than the Hartlebury plant."


Brilliant piece of work Liz. The only thing left to ask is...If it's good enough for Bristol now why do you mention it as not proven, too much of an unknown for a naturally cautious council? Bristol must be a "naturally cautious" council too, but they've committed to this scheme. Why not Herefordshire? Herefordshire even has a couple of years of breathing space to watch Bristol's adventure. 

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I have come in late here, but how many councillors have really looked into the alternatives for producing waste from energy? That is, shown a genuine interest in finding out for themselves what is happening out there beyond Hereford - the internet is a good source. The impression I get of how the council does business is that someone has a bright idea of how to get rid of our rubbish and then plans a scheme which benefits everyone associated financially except the council/tax payer. 
This problem of getting rid of rubbish is a universal one and is being addressed in a variety of ways. The public have no time for technical chat, acronyms and finanacial wizardry to know how this will be achieved. So often we leave it to the so called experts and only show interest when the scheme goes pear shaped and then it is too late. Here is what is happening in Europe.
There appears to be two problems with the Hereford approach. The first was to decide which of the methods to get rid of our rubbish fits in with the council's master plan ie incineration and the second to find a finance package favourable to get it working and keeping it going to keep the money rolling in. PFI and PPP schemes are not in the best interest of council tax payers, only for councils (to get them out of the s*it and the developers and financiers to make money out of s*it, leaving council tax payers up to their necks in s*it for the next 25 years.
It has been proven that the most cost effective way of reducing waste is to recycle. Check out this presentation by an American community
To me MTB (Mechanical Biological Treatment) seems the way forward. Bournemoth Borough Council have produced a simple and clear view of all the options available listing the benefits and downsides. See pp 14 & 15 item 4.1 Biological treatment with Mechanical Biological Treatment and item 4.2 Heat Treatments within Mechanical Heat Treatment Technologies.

The site at Avonmouth claims the benefits are:

* complementary to the adjacent MBT facility, which continues to recover recyclable materials and produce a compost for use in land restoration and remediation schemes. 
* an integrated sustainable waste management solution proportionate to the waste management needs of the West of England. 
* ensuring that more of the biodegradable residual waste arising within the West of England region is diverted from landfill, further reducing emissions of methane gas, a green house gas 23 times more harmful than carbon dioxide
* not leading to any increase in HGV movements associated with the adjacent MBT facility
capable of generating up to 13MW of electricity (once fully operational) for export to the local distribution grid, enough to power around 25,000 homes* 
* capable of generating heat for re-use in the process, as well as offering potential for future heat supplies to suitable heat consumers
* contributing towards the sub-regional and regional targets for renewable energy generation and the transition to a low-carbon economy.
* helping to offset the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels and provide energy security
* assisting with the remediation and regeneration of a contaminated brownfield site with major investment into local infrastructure (Makes sense why build on a green field site when there is already plenty brown field sites available 
* similar in scale and appearance to modern employment development in Avonmouth, enhancing its character and economic vitality
* creating and supporting jobs in construction, engineering and resource management


It is about time Hereford and the county stepped forward and led in the field of waste recovery. The existing colleges and a future university in Hereford could play a part in the challenge for a sustainable future instead of its citizens watching its taxes go up in smoke.
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Looks like a useful site with a commendable aim to what could be achieved in designing out waste:


The Ellen MacArthur Foundation believes that the circular economy provides a coherent framework for systems level re-design and as such offers us an opportunity to harness innovation and creativity to enable a positive, restorative economy.


The circular economy refers to an industrial economy that is restorative by intention; aims to rely on renewable energy; minimise, tracks and eliminates the use of toxic chemicals; and eradicates waste through careful design.


The Ellen MacArthur Foundation's 2012 report Towards the Circular Economy stated that moving to this new model could be worth up to USD 630 billion for Europe alone, and the Foundation has identified that showcasing the companies leading this shift is key in demonstrating what is possible within this different framework.


We can already see evidence of a transition taking place, and the concept and principles of the circular economy have already been put into practice by very different companies around the world. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to document the best case studies in this area, to inform, inspire and stimulate research.


The circular economy refers to an industrial economy that is restorative by intention; aims to rely on renewable energy; minimises, tracks, and hopefully eliminates the use of toxic chemicals; and eradicates waste through careful design. The term goes beyond the mechanics of production and consumption of goods and services, in the areas that it seeks to redefine (examples include rebuilding capital including social and natural, and the shift from consumer to user). The concept of the circular economy is grounded in the study of non-linear, particularly living systems.


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