Herts County Council feeling heat over incinerator plan

PUBLISHED: 18:55 05 August 2011

Herts County Council

Herts County Council

Archant

Council still feeling heat over controversial “County carbuncle”

THE GO-AHEAD for a controversial multi-million-pound county waste incinerator is still a hot potato, with a St Albans resident challenging how the massive project is being funded.

And in Hatfield, where the incinerator is being built, a campaign group has announced members will do their utmost to derail a project they have dubbed a “county carbuncle”.

Herts County Council recently signed an £800 million contract with Veolia Environmental Services to build and operate the waste plant in New Barnfield, off Travellers Lane in Hatfield, for the next 25 years.

The decision to construct the county incinerator at Hatfield follows a successful campaign by St Albans residents to fight against it being built close to water supplies at Harper Lane, near Radlett.

However, campaign group Hatfield Against Incineration (HAI) has attacked that decision.

HAI member and New Barnfield Trust secretary, Paul Zukowskyj, said: “The politicians at County Hall are not listening to local people. They don’t care because this ‘County Carbuncle’ isn’t in their back yard.

“They shied away from dumping this on Radlett because there are too many lawyers and too much NIMBYism there.”

Paul went on: “They decided on New Barnfield because they think Hatfield residents can’t afford to fight them properly in the courts and don’t care about the area. How wrong they are.”

HAI has engaged a top-class barrister to provide expert advice on how to derail the project.

Meanwhile, Clive Glover, of Radlett, has questioned funding of the project which he fears will become a “white elephant that we and our children will be paying for the next 25 years.”

He has written to Caroline Spelman, Environment Secretary, to ask for a “very detailed examination” of information supplied by the county council to help secure £115.3 million of private finance initiative credits – a government grant based on the capital investment made by a contractor.

This funding helped kick-start the project when the council submitted an outline business case (OBC), explaining why a new waste treatment plant was needed for the county, to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

But in a letter to the Environment Secretary Clive said: “It seems to me that some officials and councillors are hell-bent on signing up to this extremely expensive contract regardless of the costs or whether it represents the appropriate solution or value for money for local taxpayers.”

Clive said he and other Herts residents had carefully examined the OBC and found “a number of the key assumptions were highly questionable.”

He said he was “appalled that the council was trying to get away with using their original outline business case figures to justify going ahead with the incinerator.”

n Veolia Environmental Services (UK) Plc is now working on environmental impact assessments and preparing a planning application for New Barnfield, which will be submitted mid-November.

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