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West Midlands £1bn incinerator scheme halted

A controversial £1bn energy from waste (EfW) plant proposed for Coventry has been halted causing the public consultation and planning application to be postponed.

The plan for the incinerator forms part of a joint waste PFI for Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council known as Project Transform.

However, a change in political control in some of the councils following the election on May 6 has meant that more councillors are now opposing the plans and, at a meeting on Monday 7 June, representatives from all three councils agreed to halt the plans until after the emergency budget on June 22 when the future of PFI deals under the new coalition Government are set to be announced.

Planned public consultations on the development and the formal submission of the planning application have been postponed as a result of Monday’s meeting pending the outcome of the budget, when it is hoped by some, the plans will be abandoned completely.

Anti-incineration activist Keith Kondakor told MRW: “The hope is that this project will no longer be considered as a financially viable option and instead of spending a billion pounds on a new waste burner the councils will have a lot more money to spend on other things like education, awareness, waste minimisation and building anaerobic digestion facilities.”

Coventry City Council’s deputy leader of the Conservative group Kevin Foster, who was deputy leader of the council when it first applied for PFI funding for Project Transform, has recently written to Chancellor George Osborne requesting that he removes PFI funding to the project.

The letter from Foster states: “I believe you could make a welcome saving to Government funds by scrapping the offer of PFI funding and instead asking the relevant Department to work with the three Councils, in particular Coventry City Council, to look at an exemplar project to deliver one of the key goals set out in the Coalition agreement, namely that measures to promote a huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion should be implemented.”

Members of Solihull Council which has recently changed to Liberal Democrat control have also spoken out against the plans. Councillor Tim Hodgson said: “As an administration we are determined to increase our recycling rate and have set a medium-term target of 60%. We have concerns that Project Transform is not the best solution in terms of dealing with our residual waste.”

The final decision on the future of the EfW plans for Project Transform will be determined following the budget.

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