Plymouth City Council won't reveal full details of £25,000 report on 'unstoppable incinerator'
COUNCIL bosses have refused to give detailed figures to back up claims that it would cost more than £400million to stop the Devonport incinerator.
The new Labour administration at Plymouth City Council ordered city firm Foot Anstey to write two reports at an estimated cost of £25,000.
The incinerator was commissioned by the South West Devon Waste Partnership, which is made up of Plymouth, Devon and Torbay councils.
The partnership was set up by the previous Conservative-led administration.
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One Foot Anstey report advises the council on the possibility of withdrawing from its agreement with Devon and Torbay councils and the waste firm MVV Environment Devonport Ltd to build the incinerator at North Yard.
It says the cost would be "in excess of £400million" – about three times the total cost of pushing ahead with the MVV project.
The second report concludes that there are no legitimate grounds to revoke the planning permission granted last year for the incinerator.
Work on the incinerator site continues after the city's cabinet and planning committee accepted the advice, as reported in The Herald.
The acceptance means the council will not attempt to stop the incinerator build and the £140million project will go ahead.
A council spokeswoman said she was not in a position to give an exact breakdown of figures used by Foot Anstey to reach the conclusion that pulling out of the project would cost more than £400million because of commercial confidentiality.
And in an interview with The Herald published this week, council leader Tudor Evans said: "I still do not know the precise details of that deal, even now."
He said he would be able to see the contract, but was not even allowed to take it to his own office.
The council spokeswoman said Foot Anstey was given access to the waste partnership's Joint Working Agreement, Defra PFI grant award and MVV contract details.
"We are confident that the rounded figure takes into account:
The potential losses under the 25-year contract including redundancy costs, lost income, costs expended to date and compensation costs that MVV would have to pay to its subcontractors and to the MoD.
The potential loss of PFI credits from Defra, estimated at £177million over 25 years.
The potential losses which would be suffered by Devon and Torbay councils for Plymouth withdrawing from the Joint Working Agreement and the MVV contract.
She said the figure did not take into account the cost of Plymouth procuring and building an alternative solution.
It also did not take into account the amount of landfill tax the city would have to pay until an alternative solution was available."
"We have not yet had the final bills for the reports but it is likely to be around £25,000," she said.
"Had the reports exposed a way of extracting the council from the contract that was affordable, it would have been extremely good value."
But Tory councillor Ian Bowyer said: "This exercise was a scandalous waste of public money.
"The cost of this report is essentially the cost of one council job."
He said the council itself already held all the information and did not need to employ Foot Anstey.
He said the Foot Anstey report into the planning process had vindicated the previous Conservative council.
Conservative group leader Vivien Pengelly said: "Labour postured during the last election and made promises they couldn't keep.
"They played to the gallery, raised false hopes, and now they are wriggling to get off the hook."
Council leader Tudor Evans has promised scrutiny of the health implications of the incinerator.
The council spokeswoman said: "While we recognise that there will be intensive monitoring of the plant once it is built, we are troubled by the limited evidence on how the incinerator may affect the health of residents."
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