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Waste campaigner slams Project Transform PFI - COMMENT UPDATE

A Friends of the Earth waste campaigner has slammed plans for the Midlands private finance initiative, Project Transform.

According to Keith Kondakor, the numbers issued by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs over the proposed energy-from-waste plant to service Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire are, based on flawed assumptions and inflated waste tonnages.

Defra issued a statement on 15 June saying the proposed facility will divert 427,000 tonnes of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill by 2020. The PFI action plan submitted to Defra will replace an existing energy-from-waste plant - which allegedly currently burns 260,000 tonnes a year - with a 305,000 tonne per year facility. (see MRW story)

Kondakor believes the capacity for the facility is far too great, created by out-of-date waste figures. He said: The plant will be short of waste because most of it will be recycled in the future. Warwick already has a 54 per cent recycling rate and the long term aspirations for recycling target should be over 70 per cent. PFI contracts are agreed upon a minimum amount of waste that will be processed at the plant. This minimum tonnage would undermine the recycling rates as waste will be used in the plant to meet this capacity instead. It is going to be a phenomenally expensive PFI and a massive waste of public money

Warwickshire County Council programme manager for waste management Kalen Wood said: We always made the commitment that we would review the waste data and waste flow model for the plant. We used data from 2006/07 to create the waste flow model for the Outline Business Case but this is currently being reviewed using  2008/09 waste data and we will review it again before we sign any contracts.

We wont need the full 305,000 tonne per year capacity for municipal waste straight away , the onus will be on the winning contractor to fill the spare capacity until the full capacity is required by the three authorities, which is likely to be towards the end of the 25 year contract."

Kondakor also highlighted the refurbishment of the existing energy-from-waste facility. However Defra confirmed this work is to mend a chimney with a weakness in the refractive lining, which could cause safety issues if left untreated.

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