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Four councils granted JRs on PFIs withdrawn

Two judicial reviews have been opened on Defra’s decision to withdraw Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funding from the waste projects of four councils partnerships.

On 22 August the High Court granted Bradford and Calderdale councils and North Yorkshire County and York City councils leave to proceed with a review of the Government decision to remove its support for a waste treatment plant in Bradford and a waste recovery park near Harrogate.

The cases will be heard separately but on the same date, which has not yet been confirmed, a spokesperson for North Yorkshire County council told MRW.

Andrew Thornton, Bradford council executive member for environment and sport, said that the council welcomed the High Court’s decision.

“By its withdrawal of the waste PFI credits at the eleventh hour Defra pulled the rug from under our long-term solution for dealing with the district’s waste in a sustainable way,” he said.

“This project would have diverted almost all of our waste away from landfill in the face of rising landfill taxes. This is why we felt we had no choice but to challenge Defra’s decision through the courts.”

The planned waste treatment plant, in Bowling Back Lane, Bradford, was expected to process 193,000 tonnes of waste per year.

The project had been granted £62.1m in PFI credits, but Defra removed its support for this and two other waste projects – Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority and Halton; and North Yorkshire and City of York councils - in February, saying that they would have limited impact on the meeting of 2020 landfill targets.

Bradford council said that without government funding, which was worth some £120m over the 25 year, the project was no longer viable.

It also claimed that Defra had already been reviewing its support of several waste projects in November 2012, and that costs of around £2.7m could have been avoided had Defra informed the council at that stage.

North Yorkshire County and York City councils are proceeding with their project for a waste treatment facility at Allerton Park, which includes the building of an energy-from-waste plant.

The EfW project has recently received the backing of the High Court after local opposition groups applied for a judicial review of the incinerator’s planning permission.

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