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Waste Incinerator Debate


Glenda Powell
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The incinerator proposed as the future for the county's waste, with people claiming the PFI funded plan (look what happened to the hospital that was PFI funded) with costs well into nine figures - is now thought to be wasteful itself and can no longer be sustained by Herefordshire council. At the Overview and scrutiny committee on September 3rd  the committee heard some compelling evidence that the proposed incinerator at Hartlebury was now out of date, expensive  and inefficent.

 

At a meeting this month  we heard from Dr David Slater ( a former director of the environment agency and head of polution control) who presented the opportunity for Herefordshire to make use of a state of the art and proven pyrolysis based treatment plant to be based at Rotherwas. This plant would not only deal with all our biomass streams, but would produce 13mw electricity  and provide a district heating system for the complete Rotherwas Industrial Estate. This would be at no capital cost for the county, and would only cost the equivalent of landfil for the actual processing of the biomass. This plant could be up and running within two years.

Herefordshire Independent councillors were given a full  presentation of the system and process, we were all impressed!

 

Let us hope the Conservative administration will take careful notice, millions of pounds could be saved, and we would be masters of our own fate - for a change!

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  • 1 year later...
Wednesday 17 September 2014 in Hereford Times News by Bill Tanner

 
Commons report questions funding for incinerator shared with Worcestershire
 
MPs have turned the heat on an incinerator plant pitched as the future for the county’s waste, criticising the near £90 million paid to the PFI project so far - without the facility being built.
 
Released this morning, the findings of a key parliamentary committee question the basis of government grant funding for the incinerator and its future in a sector where technology is continually evolving.
 
The energy from waste incinerator is integral to a joint 25 year waste disposal contract with West Mercia Waste signed by Herefordshire Council and Worcestershire County Council.
 
An initial capital cost for the project is reported to be more than £160 million, but opponents claim ongoing maintenance will at least double this over the 25 years  while the cost using PFI funding could triple.
 
In February, Herefordshire Council passed a 2014-15 budget committing the council to paying £40m for the incinerator at Hartlebury, Worcestershire, over three years.
 
The budget strategy estimated council borrowing as increasing by £50.8 million over 2014/15, pushing the overall debt up to £218.2 million, including £11 million borrowed over the year for the incinerator.
 
Ahead of the vote, the incinerator, one of the biggest funding commitments the council has made,  was heavily criticised as wasteful itself in terms of cost and based on technology already close to outdated.
 
This morning (Wed)  the House of Commons committee of public accounts released the findings of its investigation into three PFI waste processing contracts – including that signed by Herefordshire Council and Worcestershire County Council.
 
Those findings support criticisms made of Herefordshire Council over the Hartlebury incinerator.
 
The committee found PFI contracts of  25-30 years are “inappropriate†for the waste sector where technology is continually evolving with the amount of waste in  hard to predict.
 
Funding agreements for early PFI waste deals were “poorly drafted† by the then Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR)  and “too lax†in requiring payments for key assets that had not been built.
 
As such, the committee found that the funding agreement signed with Herefordshire and Worcestershire councils highlighted the “shortcomings†of early PFI projects, with payments to the council aligned with payment made by the councils to the contractor.
 
Grant payments started as soon as the councils started to pay the contractor, with the government, through either the DETR or its successor the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),  legally committed to making grant payments ever since.
 
In December 1998, the DETR signed a funding Herefordshire Council and Worcestershire County Council for £143 million and the payment of related grants started shortly after.
 
The terms of the original funding agreements did not allow central government to stop payment or alter the payment terms in the event that key capital assets were not delivered.
 
Since its creation in 2001, DEFRA  has had responsibility for overseeing these grants and did not review the agreements until 2011.
 
Terms with Herefordshire and Worcestershire councils were not successfully renegotiated until 2013, resulting in a £30 million cut in total funding.
 
The process of renegotiation was time-consuming. In the case, of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire DEFRA confirmed to the committee that it took them six months to approve the new funding approach the councils were proposing.
 
With contractor apparently unwilling to fund the incinerator, the councils were left considering using the rate income generated from the populations of both counties to cover the cost of the contract.
 
At the end of the 2013-14 financial year, both councils had received nearly £90 million for an incinerator plant that had still to be built.
 
Committee chair Margaret Hodge MP said it was “appalling†that “lax, poorly drafted†PFI funding agreements for waste processing plants  had led to hundreds of millions of pounds worth of grants being paid to councils to three councils without the main assets being built.
 
Herefordshire Council is expected to respond to the report’s findings later today.

 

Well done Bill. How much more is this administration going to cost us? A lot of money spent and nothing to show for it. No wonder leader Cllr Tony Johnson is still asking the public to do the budget for him.

 

Note that Glenda above was on the ball 2 years ago with awareness of alternative technologies for this sort of problem and cheaper too.

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Well done Megilleland and once again Glenda was proved right! The Council will plough on regardless, they are far too conceited to listen to anyone else's opinions! Hoople, Futures, Balfour Beatty and the recent Customer Service IT systems were all mistakes they were told about but they wouldn't listen! Extortionate amounts of money have been seriously wasted purely because they think they know better! Who exactly does have the ear of the Council, the Consultants, the Directors or the Senior Mangers? It's certainly not the front line staff, if they open their mouths they are victimised and labelled a trouble maker as in the case disclosed on another thread!

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They are certainly burning our hard earned cash. The council pleading they need millions for this and for that, but do nothing to make the average citizen's life more pleasant - no grass cutting, no bus services, no sport, no heritage or culture, nothing for the young. They couldn't care less - it's not about the service, it's about getting the contract signed for their private friends.

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