Waste disposal alternatives 'could save £320m' on St Dennis incinerator contract
Cornwall Council could save up to £320 million if it considered alternatives to its controversial waste incinerator contract, a report said yesterday.
Opponents of the planned £117 million incinerator at St Dennis, in Mid Cornwall, commissioned the review from national waste experts Eunomia, which has advised both government and the European Commission.
Its report said the council could make potential savings of £320 million during the 30-year contract by pursuing alternatives, a figure which dwarfed the "relatively small" £125 million costs of abandoning the current deal with waste giant SITA.
Ken Rickard, chairman of the Cornwall Waste Forum's St Dennis Branch, said the council need to look again at the contract.
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"We began our campaign because of our concerns about the impact on the environment and health of Cornwall, and our immediate community if an incinerator was built in St Dennis," he said.
"Over time we have found out more about the complex subject of waste management and become convinced that Cornwall Council boxed themselves into a corner when negotiating the private finance initiative contract with SITA.
"This has not offered value for money, or taken into consideration the huge changes taking place in waste disposal approaches elsewhere in the country.
"Councillors have understandably asked for evidence, which we have now provided and it is their responsibility to look into this contract and question waste treatment and disposal policy."
The row dates back to 2006, when the now-defunct Cornwall County Council signed a £500 million contract with SITA to handle the county's waste.
Objections to the incinerator were raised on health grounds, protecting the landscape and the size of the plant's 390ft (119m) chimney.
The fight ended up at the Supreme Court in July which refused to refer the case to the European Court of Justice.
A spokesman for Cornwall Council said plans for the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre had been "thoroughly tested through the planning and legal processes" and found to be "a reliable and deliverable solution for managing Cornwall's waste".
He said: "Adopting a different approach would require the council to change its existing waste policy and develop a new policy.
"Not only would this mean carrying out further public consultation, the authority would also need to find alternative sites, procure a new contractor, enter into a new contract and obtain planning permissions."
He added: "Cornwall is rapidly running out of landfill space and to effectively start the process again is not a viable option."