Councillors turn down alternative to controversial waste incinerator
A report which claimed Cornwall Council could save £320 million if it abandoned its controversial waste incinerator plan was effectively confined to the rubbish bin yesterday as councillors opted not to pursue its ideas.
Experts Eunomia were commissioned by the Cornwall Waste Forum to examine the council's 30-year contract with SITA which centres around the now approved £117 million incinerator at St Dennis, in Mid Cornwall.
The consultants concluded that massive potential savings could be found if the council abandoned the contract and pursued alternatives such as anaerobic digestion.
Their findings were again discussed at yesterday's Cabinet Waste Development Advisory Panel (CWDAP).
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And while councillors again expressed their disappointment at the current situation, they decided to take the report no further.
Councillor Mike Varney admitted the contract situation was "frustrating" but added: "There is not a lot we can do. We have to go forward with what's on the table at the moment."
In a resolution proposed by Councillor Julian German, members agreed to "note" the report but added: "CWDAP note that the procurement undertaken for the integrated waste management contract signed by the former County Council does not allow Cornwall Council to move to an alternative technological approach.
"The CWDAP note that Cornwall Council, in common with other local authorities, faces severe constraints on its budget and must look closely at the value for money it achieves in all of the services it delivers.
"Further, that by Cornwall Council changing its approach to waste collection it has the potential to deliver major savings."
The Eunomia report, the authors of which did not attend the meeting despite an invitation, was again criticised by council officers and some members.
Councillor Fiona Ferguson highlighted that, on its own figures, Eunomia's plan to switch to anaerobic digestion would see 116,000 tons of waste still going to landfill.
At £80 per ton, and with costs expected to rise, Councillor Ferguson said: "Landfill tax is a bill we can't pay."
In his report, Nigel Blackler, head of transportation, waste and environment, said: "Eunomia have stated that there is no financial argument against landfill and that there is considerable permitted landfill capacity available. The considerable extent of landfilling required by the Eunomia proposal contains significant risks associated with the medium and long term rates of landfill tax.
"However, most importantly the fact remains that the strategy for management of waste in Cornwall based on both European and national waste policy is to achieve a sharp move away from the current levels of reliance on landfill. Therefore, to landfill at such high rates as proposed by Eunomia is not acceptable within the current policy context."