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Council say it’s time to press on with Hartlebury facility
A LAST-DITCH bid to probe Worcestershire’s planned rubbish-burning incinerator has been rejected – after politicians said it was time to get on with it.
The Green Party has lost a bid to force the county council to investigate the finances of the controversial plant drawn up for Hartlebury.
The massive facility, which campaigners say could cost taxpayers £1 billion over the lifetime of a 25-year contract, is being held up because a new funding package is being considered for it.
The county council’s two-strong Green Party group tried to get it probed by a watchdog-style panel, but it was thrown out after critics said the council had spent “15 years” talking about it.
It means the overview and scrutiny performance board, which is tasked with flagging up any concerns with the Tory leadership, will not look at the incinerator plan again.
Green Councillor John Raine, speaking during a full council meeting, said: “I don’t think I need to remind anyone that overview and scrutiny is an important function for the cabinet and leader model we have here at this council.
“This is all about how much we respect scrutiny.”
His pleas were widely rejected, with politicians from different parties saying it was time for the talking to stop.
Labour Councillor Rich-ard Udall, chairman of the scrutiny board, said: “I totally oppose this motion because I think it’s unnecessary.
“If we thought this was needed, we’d have found time. It’s been scrutinised for over 15 years, other options have been looked at and rejected, and this motion is designed to pander to a few protesters.
“It’s already had microscopic examination.”
Tory Councillor John Campion said: “He (Coun Udall) is spot on – it’s almost like they haven’t got the answer they wanted, so they have decided to come back and ask again.
“This isn’t the time to do this, it has gone on for too long already.”
Councillor Peter Mc-Donald, Labour group leader, said: “We need this incinerator up and running as quickly possible – we are running out of landfill space and the taxes on it are going up and up.”
The plant, which has been heavily criticised by residents in Hartlebury and green groups, will generate electricity to 20,000 homes by burning rubbish.
It has already secured planning approval and government clearance, but a final vote on it at full council has been pushed back while an “alternative” funding option is examined.
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