FUNDING to build Worcestershire’s first waste-burning incinerator has been given the go ahead despite strong objections from residents and campaigners.
A total of 53 councillors took part in the vote at County Hall last Thursday (January 16) to grant a £165million loan to the plant’s operators Mercia Waste Management Limited.
Although it was strongly opposed councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour with only 11 against.
The plant, which has been on the cards for nearly 16 years, will have the potential to burn 200,000 tonnes of Herefordshire and Worcestershire’s waste every year.
Developers are aiming to have the energy from the Hartlebury waste plant operational from the start of 2017.
Once built, it is estimated it will cost £6.6million of taxpayers’ money every year to keep it running.
Coun John Campion said they needed to make the difficult decision previous councils had not been brave enough to do for the residents of Worcestershire.
“I don’t support this proposal for any reason other than it’s the right thing to do for the communities that I serve.
“They expect councils to get on and do what is right, in terms of getting rid of our waste, in an efficient and effective manor and we are not doing that currently and that’s what this proposal will do.”
Coun Martin Jenkins, who opposed the scheme, pleaded with his fellow councillors to explore other available options before they ‘rushed into burning the council’s budget as well as the county’s waste’.
He said Warwickshire County Council had been doing a far better than Worcestershire’s with its three bins for recyclables, landfills and organic waste and a page should be taken from its book.
“Warwickshire has just won a procurement awards for a system that is head and shoulders above the rest of us and they are actually making money,” he added.
He said Warwickshire managed to recycle and compost 58 per cent of its waste last year, and used less than half of its yearly allowance of biodegradable waste.
This equated to around 62,000 tons of waste which did not have to be put in the ground.
Coun Jenkins questioned why Worcestershire could not do it when its closest neighbours could.
“The council seems to be being blindly lead,” he added.
“With such large sums of money at stake, it’s scandalous more is not being done to examine the decisions made.
“Out of sight out of mind would seem to be the council’s attitude to waste.”