Veolia’s plans for an incinerator in Hertfordshire have been criticised by a government minister, who claimed residents were being kept in the dark over the proposed plant.
Grant Shapps (Con), the local MP and local government minister, said the local authority responsible, Hertfordshire County Council, was not acting with full transparency and could face an “obvious” conflict of interest.
A statement of on the MP’s website said: “Grant is concerned that Hertfordshire County Council released only a heavily censored (redacted) version of the contract, making it impossible for the public to know what was going on.
It added: “The contract signed between Veolia and the county makes it clear that there are a range of penalties that would kick in if planning permission is not granted.
“Given that it is the county who grant this particular planning permission concerns have been raised about the obvious conflict of interest.
“However, since these vital details have been removed from the published version of the contract it’s impossible for the public to know how the conflict of interest might play out in the planning process.”
The statement followed the minister making a formal request to Hertfordshire, under the Freedom of Information Act, to reveal further details on contract.
Veolia Environmental Services has signed a contract with Hertfordshire for the 180,000 tonne energy-from-waste facility in July.
The facility, to be built in New Barnfield, Hatfield, has negotiated a minimum tonnage of 180,000, which means it will not interfere with increases in recycling rates, and could allow the council to reach 75% recycling.
A Hertfordshire spokesman said: “We are aware that Mr Shapps has made a request for further information under the Freedom of Information Act and we are currently considering this. The county council is committed to being transparent in the work it carries out and strives to release as much information as soon as it is possible.”
A Veolia spokeswoman said: “I can confirm Veolia Environmental Services will assist the County Council, where appropriate, in responding to any such request under the Freedom of Information Act.”