Leading lawyer joins Radlett incinerator fight

ONE of Britain’s most influential lawyers is throwing his support behind a local campaign group fighting a controversial county incinerator that may be built in Radlett.

Lord David Pannick QC, a long-established Radlett resident who has been rated as a “leading silk” in eight practice areas and is recognised in Chambers UK 2011 as one of its “stars at the bar,” has promised his full support to Watling Incinerator Group (WING).

The organisation’s chair, Janie Jackson-Spillman, said WING was delighted to receive an email from the renowned international human rights lawyer. She said: “Having Lord Pannick with us is tremendous.”

Lord Pannick’s clients have included the Queen, Greg Rusedski and former FIA boss Max Mosley in the past.

WING is angry that Herts county council, which has been planning to build a county incinerator for several years, did not reveal the possibility of having the facility built in Harper Lane, Radlett, until mid-2010.

The council is currently evaluating tenders to build the incinerator at either Hatfield or Radlett, with a decision on the preferred bidder to be presented at a meeting on April 28.

Janie, an accountant who lives in Radlett, said the group would be sending out thousands of pamphlets to residents warning them about the proposed incinerator at the Lafarge Aggregates site at Harper Lane because the council had “held no public consultation” with local people.

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She said the group was challenging the council’s “secret” procurement process and “the assumptions made to justify the need for an incinerator,” particularly as it had only recently completed a public consultation on its waste plan for the county for 2011-2026, the results of which have not been announced.

Janie added that it made sense for no decision to be made about an incinerator until the Coalition’s policy on waste was made public.

WING has called on the council to hold a county-wide referendum on the incinerator or at least with the people most likely to be affected.

There have also been questions raised about council’s official stance that, should the county continue to use landfill, it would cost taxpayers an extra �544 million over the next 25 years.

The council has warned that if it doesn’t build an incinerator it faces significant costs in landfill tax and fines that would be passed on to taxpayers.

Clive Glover, a member of WING, described this as a “fantasy figure” and said: “They use this �544 million figure and it doesn’t tie up with the figures in the outline business case they submitted to Defra.”

An outline business case for PFI credits was submitted to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to try and secure government funding for a new waste treatment facility in Herts and the county council was awarded �115.3 million in March 2009.

A council spokeswoman has denied the group’s claims that taxpayers would be paying guaranteed payments of up to �90 million per year to the incinerator contractor for 25 years.

She said the council was currently evaluating the tenders and did not have a preferred option or cost but it would be far less than than �90 million.

In response to WING pointing out that building and operating the plant over 25 years would cost �1.9 billion, the spokeswoman said: “The �1.9 billion quoted is the cost of the reference case as detailed in the outline business case which was submitted to Defra in 2009 to secure PFI credits.

“It is important to note that this figure includes the cost of running all our waste management systems such as household waste recycling centres, in-vessel composting, windrow, hazardous waste, recycling credits and landfill allowance costs.”

n Hertsmere MP James Clappison has made a successful application for an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on the issue.

He was to speak about Hertfordshire’s proposed incinerator and government’s waste management strategy late last night.

St Albans MP Anne Main was also expected to speak at the debate.