Bill for county incinerator spirals 2,000 per cent off course

Bill for county incinerator spirals 2,000 per cent off course

Bill for county incinerator spirals 2,000 per cent off course

First published in News
Last updated
Worcester News: Tom Edwards Exclusive by , Political Reporter

THE bill for consultancy work and legal fees run up by the county council during the fight to build a controversial incinerator in Worcestershire reached 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, which is due to open in Hartlebury in 2017.

But new figures show the council’s budget spiralled 2,000 per cent off course, revealing:  

* In 2013/14, £22,950 was set aside for legal fees on the council’s Private Finance Initiative (PFI), but it spiralled to £314,486.

* The council budgeted to spend just £19,489 on consultants’ advice, but the 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.

The waste plant, which will burn 20,000 of tonnes of rubbish a year, was approved by Worcestershire County Council in January.

The new findings have been labelled “absolutely unbelievable” by campaigners, who say a fresh investigation is needed into why the costs were so high.

The data is contained in the council’s 2013/14 accounts, which are made available for public inspection for a limited period each summer.

The council’s Conservative leadership has long argued that one of the key arguments in favour of building the plant is value-for-money.

Rob Wilden, from Herefordshire and Worcestershire Action Group (HWAG), which has been protesting 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.

“We knew the total costs of the waste PFI contract were going to be utterly horrendous but I find this absolutely unbelievable.”

Rubbish from the plant will be collected from across Worcestershire and Herefordshire, burning it to generate electricity for the National Grid.

The site will be run by West Mercia Waste Management under the PFI deal, but will be handed back to Worcestershire and Herefordshire councils to operate from 2023.

When it approved it back in January, the council said existing landfill sites are dangerously close to being full and on current trends will be filled by 2024.

The council also claims carrying on using landfill would have seen the cost of dealing with the county’s waste spiral to £2.1 billion by 2042, while the cost with the incinerator will be £1.6 billion.

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

He said: “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.

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

Comments (5)

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2:09pm Thu 28 Aug 14

Arthur Blenkinsop says...

This was always going to be the case, i have no idea why anyone thought it would be any different. And now watch the cost of actually building the plant soar too.
This was always going to be the case, i have no idea why anyone thought it would be any different. And now watch the cost of actually building the plant soar too. Arthur Blenkinsop
  • Score: 4

3:18pm Thu 28 Aug 14

3thinker says...

More Council Tax payers money literally going up in smoke!
More Council Tax payers money literally going up in smoke! 3thinker
  • Score: 2

4:57pm Thu 28 Aug 14

CJH says...

Did they need a consultant to tell them that the consultants fees were too high?
Did they need a consultant to tell them that the consultants fees were too high? CJH
  • Score: 5

7:59pm Thu 28 Aug 14

presterjohn says...

As soon as the letters PFI are used you know that the taxpayer is going to lose out. They should ban them. As for this constant use of consultants by our local and national politicians don't they realise that the world managed perfectly well before they existed and that they were voted in on the assumption that they were wise enough to consult between themselves about what was and was not required.
As soon as the letters PFI are used you know that the taxpayer is going to lose out. They should ban them. As for this constant use of consultants by our local and national politicians don't they realise that the world managed perfectly well before they existed and that they were voted in on the assumption that they were wise enough to consult between themselves about what was and was not required. presterjohn
  • Score: 6

4:16pm Fri 29 Aug 14

The Future is here says...

The bill ofr the consultancy is no where near the cost of potential bills that current land fill charges will be in 5 years time. This will be seen as value for money and a well planned out plant - as is in 10+ counties in the UK already. ... i dont neccessarily agree with the plant, but we need to think ahead for the county, so we dont sink with bigger debts levied by EU / Government
The bill ofr the consultancy is no where near the cost of potential bills that current land fill charges will be in 5 years time. This will be seen as value for money and a well planned out plant - as is in 10+ counties in the UK already. ... i dont neccessarily agree with the plant, but we need to think ahead for the county, so we dont sink with bigger debts levied by EU / Government The Future is here
  • Score: 2
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