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Coventry incinerator PFI project to be transformed out of existence

According to local activists Project Transform, the incinerator partnership between Coventry City Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Warwickshire County Council, is in the process of collapsing.

The project is at death’s door with bidders pulling out and the city council getting cold feet. We have been told by a senior councillor that Coventry City council has chosen not to fund the application for outline planning permission for the PFI incinerator. The PFI is now a dead project walking!

Current recycling levels are exceeding targets. For example, the new recycling system in Solihull is reaching 42% against a 37% target. Landfilling in Warwickshire is down 18% in the first half of 2009/10 following the 16% fall in 2008/09.

Replacing projections with actual data for waste arisings resulted in a revised waste flow projection that removes the sense of urgency to replace the existing incinerator for at least a decade.

In a further development, 2 of the 8 remaining bidders have withdrawn. MVV Umwelt GMBH and Covanta Energy Ltd are no longer in the running, while Biffa, Wheelabrator/Cory, Veolia, Eon/Greenstar, Urbaser/Balfour Beatty and WRG/Cemex are reconsidering their position.

In a recent press release Warwickshire Friends of the Earth call attention to the forthcoming Warwickshire County Council decision, expected to confirm the spectacular collapse of the incinerator PFI.

From 10 AM on Tuesday 30th March Warwickshire County Council will debate what’s left of Project Transform together with the controversial plan to build a wasteful new and larger municipal incinerator in Coventry on allotment land adjacent to the current burner off the London Road, Whitley.

Liberal Democrat Councillors John Whitehouse and Jerry Roodhouse are advancing the following motion:

That this Council should seek the agreement of its partners in Project Transform, namely Coventry City Council and Solihull Borough Council, to:
· halt the current procurement process for a joint residual waste facility;
· delay for a minimum of 1 year any re-start of joint procurement;
· develop joint alternative medium/long term strategies for residual waste disposal;
· reduce the size of the project team to minimise costs during the development of alternative strategies.

If agreement to this course cannot be reached across all three authorities, the Council should withdraw from Project Transform, as provided for under the Joint Working Agreement between the partners, and pursue an alternative medium/long term strategy for residual waste disposal.

If this motion is passed all parties, including partner councils, will be obliged to fully evaluate the details of this controversial project. The meeting will be held in the council chamber and access is available to the public and press see agenda].

With waste arisings falling and recycling rate increases accelerating this is not the time to commit millions of pounds to a project that would see resources going up in smoke.

UKWIN member CRACIN is the community campaign opposing the continued burning of resources in a mass burn incinerator in Coventry.

Journalist Tiffany Holland’s article Project Transform’s future to be debated quotes Warwickshire County Council Liberal Democrat spokesman for the environment Cllr John Whitehouse as saying:

The only thing that seems to be driving the project is the PFI process we’re locked into. We’re saying it’s time to call a halt on this to make certain we’re not going to build a plant which is significantly bigger than our needs.

One thought on “Coventry incinerator PFI project to be transformed out of existence

  1. Shlomo

    I received the following update:

    Today we had to sit though a 3-hour county council meeting only to find the Tories and labour refuse to debate the Lib Dem motion to halt the waste PFI. They argued for hours about all sorts of corporate rubbish but could not debate the incinerator PFI.

    Around quarter to one they finally got to item 13 which was the Lib-Dem motion to halt the PFI. Cllr John Whitehouse pointed out that many problems with the procurement and how there was to the waste to justify the PFI burner. There was a short reply from the Tory portfolio holder, Cllr Alan Cockburn. Cllr Cockburn kept up the “we are not committed” line. Interestingly he admitted they may in future only have 100,000 tonnes per year for disposal and they had already signed a contact to burn 35,000 tonnes a year in Staffordshire. He also admitted there was of course a plan B. Strangely not a single other councillor wished to debate the billion pound PFI. The Lib Debs then made closing statements. They including the mention of the far cheaper option of a refurbishment like that of the sister incinerator of the Coventry burner in Nottingham.

    As it was time for feeding the councillors quickly voted and vanished for lunch.

    Though this vote was lost not a single councillor spoke in support of PFI. It seems they wanted to wait till 2012 to cancel the project! The two bidders in the audience said nothing!

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