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Incinerator cost could rocket to £1bn says MEP
CONTROVERSIAL approval for a £120 million incinerator in Worcestershire has been slammed by a West Midlands MEP – who is claiming the costs could spiral to £1 billion.
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME: An artist’s impression of the new incinerator planned for Hartlebury.
Mike Nattras said he was “amazed” taxpayers would have to fund the facility at Hartlebury, near Worcester, and believes people are being kept “in the dark” about the final bill.
The huge incinerator, which will burn 200,000 tonnes of rubbish a year from Worcestershire and Herefordshire, was given final approval by the Government last month.
Mr Nattras, a UKIP MEP, said: “Everyone involved in this ill-conceived project is simply gambling as its cost is not known. Waste, as it is in short supply, will need to be imported from other locations to make this scheme financially viable. There is already an oversupply of incinerators all over Europe and in the UK as with the increase in recycling , less domestic waste is being generated.
“I am amazed that taxpayers in Worcestershire are expected to fund this major project. The costs have not been revealed by the contractor and may well exceed the original estimate of £120 million, possibly reaching the astronomical figure of £1 billion due to expensive Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funding – and all this without a single credible business plan.”
The suggestion has come about because several other authorities have forked out more than £1 billion for incinerators under PFI deals, while Coventry City Council scrapped one in 2010 after the initial estimates doubled from £500m. Mr Nattras also said the long-term health risks were unknown, despite the Health Protection Agency saying it believed they posed no “significant” problems. The facility will be run by Mercia Waste Management. County Hall has repeated its backing for the scheme, and is rejecting any suggestions the costs will spiral.
Councillor Anthony Blagg, the cabinet member responsible for waste, said: “The estimation of £120 million was based on research around a year ago, but it’s still an accurate one.
“I was asked this question during a cabinet meeting as an incinerator built in Kent had ended up costing £1 billion, but that was because there was a lot of machinery which needed replacing over time, so the long terms costs were very expensive.”
The plant will power 20,000 homes and heat scores of nearby businesses. Work could start at the end of the year and it will be operational by late 2015 at the earliest.