Hertfordshire County Council has been told that the Government’s lengthy delay in deciding on planning permission for an incinerator could cost it more than £100m.
The council wants to build the incinerator at Rye House under a contract with Veolia.
But it is running up against contract deadlines without having had a decision from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, which intervened to call in the planning decision after objectors raised concerns about the incinerator, taking this out of the council’s hands.
A report this week to Hertfordshire’s community safety and waste management cabinet panel said the ministry had promised a decision by 7 May but none had been received. The council therefore had to reach an agreement with Veolia to extend the date by which a decision on proceeding with the project is due.
Hertfordshire would gain a ‘cost advantage’ of £103.6m over the contract’s intended 30-year term from 2021, compared with the next best alternative of using other incinerators and landfill facilities around England.
The report said: “The affordability modelling continues to show that Rye House ERF [energy recovery facility] is financially advantageous when compared with the alternatives, £103.6m over a 30-year period.”
It said that if failure to secure planning permission from the ministry meant the contract had to be abandoned, “the council will be required to seek alternative arrangements…modelling shows that this would have significant financial implications for the council”.