Stack Attack research shows massive £190,000,000 error in Cornwall County Council’s estimated cost should Sita’s proposed incinerator be cancelled.

The Stack Attack report (available to download) is based on Freedom of Information requests made by anti-incinerator group Stack Attack, who describe the Council’s estimate for an alternative option to the incinerator as ‘wildly misleading’.

According to Stack Attack’s Oliver Baines:

It is hard to conceive how they have got this so wrong. The Council claimed, in public, that not going ahead with the incinerator would cost Cornwall £322m. Information provided by the Council has revealed a catalogue of errors in their calculations. Our realistic assessment is that their figure should be not £322m, but £132m. That’s a staggering discrepancy, of £190m. The difference is so huge that we wonder how the Council managed to achieve it or whether it actively sought to mislead the public, or whether Councillors themselves have been misled.

Cornwall Council’s use of the period 2012-2016 in their landfill tax calculations was incorrect, as the incinerator could not possibly begin operating until 2014 or even 2015, at the earliest. Therefore only the years 2015 and 2016 should have been used, and this would have resulted in a total of less than £32m, and not the £72 claimed by the Council.

Cornwall County Council quote compensation to Sita as £50m which is not in line with other compensation paid out previously. A more realistic figure is actually only £15m, the information in the table below says it all:

  Council Estimate £m   Stack Attack Estimate £m
Landfill Tax 72 21
Compensation 50 15
Alternative Technology 200 96
Total 322 132

These figures were obtained by Stack Attack using The Freedom of Information Act, so how Cornwall Council can justify their figures is an anomaly. It appears to some observers that the Council just picked a figure out of thin air to justify their case against cancelling the Sita incinerator project.

According to Diana Padwick, one of Stack Attack’s founders:

It is scarcely credible that Cornwall Council can claim the alternative would be so massively more expensive when in fact it will be £33m cheaper. The only explanation we can see for this incinerator still being pursued is that Cornwall Council, having made a decision somewhere between 6 and 12 years ago to do so, entered a contract with SITA and has failed to see that the world has changed in the meantime. If it is to keep up with rapidly changing technologies, year on year reductions in waste and dramatic increases in recycling, it needs to look again at its calculations, urgently.

The people of Cornwall remain concerned about the impact on health and environment posed by the proposed incinerator.

STIG (St. Dennis Anti-Incinerator Group) says Sita has greatly underestimated the impact that the incinerator would have on the local landscape character and on nearby historic sites. It has also been documented that even though Cornwall’s population has increased, the last three years has shown a decrease of 9.3% in municipal waste and an increase in recycling.

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