THE construction of a massive incineration plant to burn Worcestershire’s household waste is now “a distinct possibility “ according to a top environment official.

Worcestershire County Council’s head of environmental services John Hobbs told councillors that the firm contracted to dispose of the county’s rubbish, Mercia Waste, “favours energy from waste” as the best solution for Worcestershire’s growing waste mountain – and is already assessing possible sites for a plant.

‘Energy from waste’ is the Government-backed process of creating heat and electricity from everyday rubbish, and normally – though not always – involves the use of a huge incinerator.

Mr Hobbs told the county’s scrutiny committee negotiations have now stalled over the building of a futuristic £35 million waste processing site at Hartlebury.

“There’s a distinct possibility they (Mercia) will want to bring forward an ‘energy from waste’-type solution for Worcestershire,” Mr Hobbs said. “They are looking at sites, they are looking at planning issues, they are looking at legal issues.”

Tory council leader George Lord has already stated his support for an incinerator in Herefordshire or Worcestershire to deal with the two counties’ rubbish that can’t be recycled, all of which currently goes to landfill.

A new plant to deal with recyclable rubbish is currently under construction at Norton.

Incinerators are controversial and the county’s first attempt to build one, near Kidderminster in 2002, caused massive public protests. It was eventually thrown out.

“We don’t want to bring forward something that’s going to be extremely unpopular from a planning point of view,” Mr Hobbs said. “We don’t want another Kidderminster, I think it’s fair to say. But there’s going to have to be some compromises, some understanding.”

Last month your Worcester News revealed the council was in extended negotiations with a firm called Estech to build a hi-tech alternative to an incinerator, which could convert waste into an eco-fuel that could be sold around the world.

But Mr Hobbs said his team has grown frustrated with Estech after years of fruitless negotiations.

“Frankly, we’re all getting a bit tired of this after three years, so we’re looking at what else is out there,” he said.

The matter has been further complicated by the recent takeover of Estech by the VT group. No one from the firm was available to comment.

Other than ‘energy from waste’, Mr Hobbs said the only other option was driving Worcestershire’s rubbish to other facilities around the UK.

After the meeting, a spokesman for Mercia Waste said: “Since Estech was taken over we have had no discussions with them. We are continuing to evaluate different technologies that could help the county deal with its residual waste.”