THE bill for consultancy work and legal fees run up by Worcestershire County Council, to build a controversial incinerator in Worcestershire, totalled nearly £900,000, it has been revealed.

The costs during the run-up to the £165 million rubbish burner being given the go-ahead went 20 times over budget.

Work has now started on the incinerator, due to open in Hartlebury in 2017.

Figures released show the council’s budget spiralled 2,000 per cent off course.

These included, in 2013/14, £22,950 being set aside for legal fees on the council’s Private Finance Initiative, but instead spiralling to £314,486.

The authority also budgeted to spend just £19,489 on consultants’ advice - but this bill rose to a staggering £556,715.

It means, despite budgeting to spend around £42,000 in both areas last year, the end cost ran to a whopping £870,000.

Rob Wilden, from Herefordshire and Worcestershire Action Group that protested against the facility, said: “This is completely off the Richter scale.

“You couldn’t run a business like this, but for some reason the council thinks it’s OK to throw money around and overspend by 20 times its own budget."

Councillor Anthony Blagg, cabinet member for the environment, said the reason for the high figure was because in May this year the authority agreed “significant” changes to the contract signed back in 1998 to finally develop the plant.

“The additional expenditure of approximately £870,000 relates to the gross costs the councils’ incurred from engaging technical, legal and financial consultants during the financial year to specifically support us in negotiations of the contract variation," he said.

"It was fully met by council’s reserves that had been set aside in previous years to fund these costs.”