Councillors in Cornwall have rejected the possibility of adopting alternatives to controversial plans for an incinerator at St Dennis.
At a meeting last week, the council’s Waste Development Advisory panel considered a report from independent consultants which claimed that £320m could be saved by ditching the local authority’s incinerator plans.
Eunomia’s study, commissioned by campaigners opposing plans for SITA’s Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre (CERC), said that the 30-year PFI contract is poor value for money, and that the cost of pulling out is less than the savings that could be made with alternative waste management strategies.
The study concluded that the overall costs could also be reduced by an average of £10m per year by diverting recyclable materials out of the PFI contract and onto the open market.
However, a report to Waste Development Advisory panel from the council’s head of transportation Nigel Blacker concluded that the Eunomia study did not provide a credible alternative to the incinerator and recommended that no further work be done on pursuing alternatives.
The report said: “The Eunomia proposal demonstrates an unacceptable reliance on landfill, a failure to accord with the waste hierarchy, a reliance on overly optimistic financial predictions regarding recyclate income and fails to adequately address the risks from future land tax increases. Additionally, it is considered that the timescales for delivery and the risks of challenge to an alternative strategy permissions for alternative facilities are unrealistic.”
The cabinet has resolved to note the study, and also noted that “the procurement undertaken for the Integrated Waste Management Contract signed by the former County Council does not allow Cornwall Council to move to an alternative technological approach”.
The cabinet also said that budget constraints meant the council must look closely at the value for money of its services, and added that it could delivery major savings by changing its approach to waste collection.
Campaigners have previously opposed the contract, which dates back to 2006, because of fears about the impact on health and the environment. SITA UK said that residents could be reassured that the Environment Agency has granted an environmental permit to SITA UK for its Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre.
In November the council gave the green light to a draft revised project plan for the energy centre, despite objectors’ claims that a change of ownership of a major customer could scupper the project.