The money is coming from Paris!
from Safe Waste in Shropshire

‘The money is coming from Paris’ Adrian Poller, Shropshire Waste Partnership, September 2007.

Local councillors are asking tough questions about the proposed Battlefield incinerator and have publicly accused Veolia of ‘misleading the public’. Elected representatives including Shrewsbury MP, Daniel Kawczynski, are now demanding that the application be ‘called in’ by the Government Office of the West Midlands. Their objections to the proposed incinerator include concerns about the incinerator’s effect on public health and Veolia’s refusal to engage with these concerns in the face of mounting evidence, the possible breach of national conservation legislation and conflicts of interest involving Shropshire Council.

Under the terms of the waste contract, signed in July 2007, Shropshire County Council agreed to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ in relation to Veolia obtaining planning permission for a waste treatment facility. Councillor Peter Nutting, SABC leader, and other councillors are ‘concerned that the application will be heard by Shropshire Council – the same authority which will control the waste contract with Veolia and that this will mean there is a conflict of interest.’ (Shropshire Star, 13 February, 2009).

Now, according to breaking news from the waste industry, the future of Private Finance Initiative loans, such as the one which is driving the proposed incinerator deal, are beginning to look shaky in the current uncertain financial climate. The government may have to use taxpayers money to bail out Private Finance Initiative projects to the tune of £4bn in the next 18 months, an industry spokesman warned on 15 February.

PFI schemes like the proposed incinerator involve private companies paying to build and maintain public infrastructure projects. In return, the state then pays the firms for 20 – 30 years.

Chancellor Alistair Darling is being urged to “go back to the drawing board” rather than use public funds for these projects. The recession means that loans to firms are being limited on PFI projects and they might need state help (i.e. taxpayers’ money) for funding that should have come from commercial loans.

Dr Charles West, Liberal Democrat candidate for Shrewsbury told Safe Waste in Shropshire:

PFI was always an expensive way of financing public sector procurement, typically the consortia (management consultant, builder and finance company or bank) expected a return of around 16% whereas if the government were to finance projects from direct public finance they could raise the money for 6% or less. The argument was that the PFI consortium were carrying the risk. It seems clear now that they are not capable of carrying the risk.

What we should definitely NOT be doing is just pouring state money into the PFI contract and allowing them still to get their 16%. If the public sector is to take over projects then they should take it over in a clean way, pay off the contractors for the work they have done already and then start from scratch.

The worst of all possible worlds would be if the PFI deal is allowed to pretend that it is going ahead, but that instead of getting the money from within the PFI consortium the tax-payer bails them out.

A Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Councillor has also made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency about Veolia’s claim that their proposed incinerator has ‘proven safety’ which is clearly aimed to mislead the general public of Shropshire. (Shropshire Star, 14 February, 2009 and Shrewsbury Chronicle, 19 February, 2009).

Veolia’s planning application for a 90,000-ton incinerator at Battlefield has now been registered by Shropshire County Council’s planning department. The registration number is: MS2009/0125/SY
The planning application can be viewed on Shropshire County Council’s website at:
http://planning.shropshire.gov.uk/PlanAppDisp.asp?RecNum=59315 and all the associated documents are on the site.

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