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£165m loan needed for Worcestershire incinerator
A LOAN of £165 million will be needed to get Worcestershire’s controversial incinerator up and running, it has emerged.
The county council has published a long-awaited report into how much money taxpayers will be forking out for the rubbish-burning plant at Hartlebury.
The 49-page dossier, which is expected to be backed by the Conservative cabinet next week, reveals:
- £165m of Government loans will be needed to pay for it, with £125m set to be paid by off by taxpayers in Worcestershire and £40m in Herefordshire
- Not accepting it would put the county at “significant risk” as the county’s landfill sites could be dangerously close to being full by 2024
- The council’s leadership wants to start construction on it by next spring, with the facility taking nearly three years to become operational, by early 2017
- The site is being run by West Mercia Waste, but when the contract expires it will be handed back to the councils to run from 2023
- There is hope the incinerator can last until at least 2042, and by then the total cost will be a staggering £1.65 billion - but the council say “doing nothing” is likely to cost £2.1bn by then
The incinerator for Worcestershire has been in the pipeline since 1998, and already has both planning permission and Government approval.
It has been vociferously opposed by green campaigners, who say it could pose a health risk, be too expensive and is out-of-date.
But the council insist it is still the “best value for money” option, especially as landfill taxes will rise from £72 per tonne now to £80 in April 2014 and £100 before the decade is up.
Last year 362,73 tonnes of rubbish in the two counties was collected and neatly 200,000 tonnes buried in the ground, costing over £9.8m in taxes.
The report says if the county’s landfill sites are full it will have to buy space from other counties, meaning an even heavier bill.
If the cabinet back the option, it will need to go to full council in February next year for a vote before any work can start.
It will create 255 construction jobs, and 45 permanent roles once in operation, and the council claim it will power energy for upwards of 20,000 homes by burning 200,000 tonnes of waste per year.
Councillor Anthony Blagg, the cabinet member responsible for the environment, said: “This is the best value for money option, it ticks all the potential boxes for us.”
But Rob Wilden, from the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Action Group, said: “We’ve got 30-odd incinerators in the country and they supply less than one per cent of energy (to the national grid).
“It’s a farce, this is just a fire in a box. We’ve been saying all along it’d cost over one billion.”
As your Worcester News revealed last month, the National Audit Office is still probing the costs of the facility on a value for money basis, focusing on Defra's role in the project.
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