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Incinerator decision was long overdue says leader
4:30pm Monday 16th December 2013 in News
THE leader of Worcester-shire County Council said he regrets a decision about the controversial incinerator taking so long – and admits it “should have happened sooner”.
Councillor Adrian Hard-man said the deal signed with West Mercia Waste in 1998 should not have been allowed to drag on.
He said politicians were guilty of “kicking the can down the road” and putting a firm decision off, costing taxpayers money.
As your Worcester News revealed on Friday, the council’s cabinet has now agreed to a £165 million loan with Herefordshire Council to get the Hartlebury burner off the ground.
The decision, which came in the face of bitter opposition from campaigners, means construction work can start next spring subject to a vote at full council in February.
Coun Hardman said: “This whole issue has been on a very long path and it does come down to the question of how long we go on ‘kicking the can down the road’.
“I have been on this council 13 years and I do feel that for the last 12 of those years we have kicked that can down the road, avoided making a decision and it’s had considerable costs to this council.
“Doing nothing is not an option and it’s clearly time we actually made this step.”
The contract with West Mercia Waste was signed by the old Labour-Lib Dem administration, which lost power in 2001. The campaigners, meanwhile, have said they have not given up hope of scuppering the plan despite the cabinet vote.
The Herefordshire and Worcestershire Action Group, which is leading the opposition, is against it on cost and environmental grounds, and believes it will discourage people to recycle.
Rob Wilden, from the group, said: “I don’t know how these councillors can look at themselves in the mirror when they have publicly displayed contempt for families and the vulnerable they are allegedly elected to protect.”
But the council says not pressing ahead with the incinerator would have cost another £128 million, and that dealing with all the rubbish from both counties without the facility could cost another half-a-billion by 2042.
Once built in 2017, it will have a capacity of 200,000 tonnes of rubbish and generate power by connecting to the national grid.
“Of the £165 million loan to fund it, £125 million will be paid off by the county council, and the rest by Herefordshire.
West Mercia Waste will hand the burner back to both councils to run from 2023.
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