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Incinerator decision facing major delay
A CRUNCH decision over whether to go ahead with a £120 million rubbish-burning incinerator in Worcestershire is facing huge delays - possibly into next year.
Your Worcester News can reveal a new financial package has been offered to the county council which means it will no longer be voted upon in October.
For several months bosses at County Hall have been delving into funding options for getting the controversial facility, planned for Hartlebury, off the ground.
During the summer the Conservative cabinet said it expected to bring a final report forward in September, but in recent weeks it was pushed back to October.
A much-anticipated report was due to be published today, ahead of a cabinet meeting on Friday October 4, outlining the final details.
Last night it emerged an “alternative” financial package, which involves the Government, means a vote before full council could be pushed back as late as next year.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: “We’re having a struggle with central Government and we’ve had to pull it from October’s meetings.
“It might be that we don’t take a decision on it until into next year.”
He said the leadership is still firmly intent on giving the project the green light after more than a decade of planning.
He said: “I am determined to protect our environment and importantly look after every penny in the public purse.
“I want this project to be decided as soon as possible so we can move away from land-filling our residual waste after recycling as much as we can.”
The news comes just days after a bid to get a council watchdog to probe the incinerator was rejected.
The council’s scrutiny board has turned down calls for one final examination of the plant’s merits.
Councillor John Raine, from the Green Party, turned up a meeting of the scrutiny board in a desperate bid to have it thrashed out one more time.
His plea fell on deaf ears after Labour Councillor Richard Udall said it has been in the pipeline “for 15 years” and is backed by different parties.
Coun Raine said: “Surely we have to apply ourselves with due diligence to such a big-ticket item, otherwise we risk looking rather foolish.”
Councillor Udall, who chairs the scrutiny board, said: “This has been discussed and debated for at least 15 years, there’s been a public enquiry and it’s got cross-party support.”
The plant will generate electricity to 20,000 homes across Worcestershire and Herefordshire by burning rubbish.
Campaigners say the costs could top £1 billion over the lifetime of a contract signed with West Mercia Waste.
Two sets of private briefings are due to take place with councillors ahead of any vote, but the old plan to take it to full council on Thursday October 17 is now off the agenda.
The fresh financial option also involves more talks with Herefordshire Council, which is partnering County Hall in the scheme.
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