Secret deal over Shrewsbury incinerator expansion

A secret deal has been struck to allow a controversial new £60 million Shropshire incinerator to burn thousands of tonnes of extra waste each year, it was revealed today.

Work is well under way on the incinerator at Battlefield
Work is well under way on the incinerator at Battlefield

The burner being built at Battlefield Enterprise Park in Shrewsbury is being upgraded to allow it to process an additional 5,000 tonnes of waste per year when it opens.

Shropshire Council’s cabinet agreed the upgrade to the Veolia incinerator at a behind-closed-doors meeting in June.

A Freedom of Information request by the Shropshire Star confirmed it had been agreed to provide a higher specification boiler.

The council’s information governance team refused to reveal how large the increase would be, releasing a substantially redacted version of the report agreed by the cabinet.

The FOI response said that due to commercial confidentiality, it was “not in the public interest to disclose the information requested”.

However, officials from Veolia confirmed today that the facility will now be able to process 95,000 tonnes of waste per year, rather than the originally-agreed 90,000 tonnes.

The waste giant said it would still be dealing with domestic and commercial waste from the Shropshire area once it opens in 2015.

An artist’s impression of how the incinerator at Battlefield in Shrewsbury will look when it is completed
An artist’s impression of how the incinerator at Battlefield in Shrewsbury will look when it is completed

Donald Macphail, regional director for Veolia Environmental Services, said: “The enhancement of the boiler will enable additional energy to be generated which will increase revenue income.

“The enhancement could give additional capacity which would enable commercial waste from around the county to be processed within the existing planning and permitting consents that allow for 95,000 tonnes of waste from around Shropshire.”

In the report, Larry Wolfe, head of waste management for the council, said the change could help generate additional money and also enable it to take some commercial waste.

“In addition to providing the capability to generate increased income from energy generation, this enhancement will allow more waste to be processed, within the existing planning and permitting consents,” he said.

Councillor Alan Mosley, leader of the Labour group on Shropshire Council, said: “I was at the Cabinet meeting and expressed my disgust that the significant changes were going through without public consent.

“It is a substantial increase in capacity to burn waste which will involve significant amounts of waste being brought into the county to be burned in Shrewsbury.”

The incinerator is scheduled to be open by 2015. It was given the go-ahead in January 2012 following an extensive public inquiry called by Veolia after Shropshire councillors rejected plans for the site in 2010.

  • Have your say in the comments box below.

The report released to the Shropshire Star under the Freedom of Information request:

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Comments for: "Secret deal over Shrewsbury incinerator expansion"


So it's being run at a more efficient rate, your point is?


What was all that waffle spouted by the leader of the Council and his hangers-on when they took over?

Something about open government and accountability?

I doubt the council had much choice in this matter and I doubt the public will actually notice any detriment to the environment (at least not obviously!), but the level of redactment on that council response is ludicrous.

Make you wonder what they're hiding.

Well done for trying, Star!

ollie simms

does this relate to the number of tonnes of cardboard previously recycled now being binned by any chance?


surely they would have to go back for planning permission for this? this is a material consideration given an extra 250 lorry movements each year to bring waste in from all over the place - i think they will be in breach of their planning permission to do this, it also increases the environmental impact, more lorries, more traffic congestion more co2 so the environment agency should revisit the environmental permit to operate because its changed substantially


Wow! 250?

Each LGV can carry between 25 and 29 tons of cargo, that's an extra 173 -200 trips a year, not a month or even a week, a year, so about an extra vehicle a day, I shall really lose sleep over that.


Stokey you either work for Veolia or dont live any where near the site.


Harlescott, didn't bother me when it was proposed, won't bother me going at full chat 24/7, that additional HGV will be going down the bypass like all the rest.

Next question?


No I don't work for Veolia, the council, any construction or transport company


Ben, If you bothered to actually read it, you'd see that the additional quantity is within the planning permission.


I don't suppose this uplift i capacity has anything to do with Veolia stopping cardboard collections and composting?

Funny how much smaler councils around the country are still able to collect and compost cardboard, despite having to work under exactly the same regulations as Shropshire.

So either Shropshire has uniquely toxic cardboard - or maybe it is just easer to burn it than recycle it.

I know what seems more likely to me


Surely they should be forced to sort out the cardboard problem before the council allow any type of increase as by not recycling the cardboard they are breaking their own deal with the council.

Veolia is just another typical foreign company that is making Britain rubbish. They probably wouldn't have got away even opening an incinerator in the middle of a town if they'd have tried this in their own country (France), but the UK are like ok it's fine come here, do whatever you please. Same attitude with ATOS and many other French companies, come to the UK and take the mick 'cos we allow you to.


I wonder what our M.P. as to say about this?


He is going to lie down in the road and block all traffic... thats what he said a few years ago, of course he's moved onto a new bandwagon or is that a train.

Dont expect anything from him.

Kev Pardy

SHROSHIRE STAR 23rd December 2009:

A spokesman from Veolia today said: "The EFW has been designed to take domestic type waste. However, if there is any spare capacity, we would be able to take commercial waste from around the county. This commercial waste is produced by businesses shops and offices and is waste that cannot be recycled. No waste will be imported from outside the county."

Remember that final sentence.

The Conservative leader told me he believes in transparency, I have seen no evidence of this, too many secret meetings. We the people of Shrewsbury seem not to matter.


You call it a secret deal. I call it a modest variation in specification.


But it is variation of planning permission. Planning changes should be heard in public. After all, in some areas or with listed buildings you need a public hearing if you want to install double glazing. You could argue that such a change is only a minor variation to a property and shouldn't go through public consultation.

Yet again the politbureau which runs Shropshire has decided against proper democratic decision making


It isn't a variation in planning permission. Refer to paragraph 3.1. The variation is within the existing planning and permitting consents.

twisting my melon

Phew , with Granville nearly full Telford needed somewhere else to send its waste . That extra 5000 ton capacity will just about see us right .


So Cllr Moseley considers a 5.5% increase as 'significant' , perhaps he could advise that councillor expenses and allowances were increased whether he too was disgusted?

I have to agree with Terry, what's wrong with running at a higher efficiency, mind you that would grind with the brothers won't it comrade?

eva land

This was obviously the point of the contract in the first place.

The democratic bit is just party point scoring at tax payers expense.


I run a business in Shrewsbury and we have a brilliant recycling company that collects from us every week - costs a few quid and I can count on two fingers what they DON'T recycle for us. We have one carrier bag full of genuine rubbish a week.

I suspect Veolia stopped cardboard recycling so it can burn the stuff instead. Incinerating NON-recyclables makes sense. But burning resources that can be recycled and re-used is economic and environmental nonsense. Will Veolia explain the percentage of what goes into their incinerator could in fact be recycled if only they made the effort?

Red ed

The point being missed is our roads will be full of trucks bringing god knows what to burn polluting our air and causing yet more congestion. We have just donated a extra 500,000 to Viola last year as part of the 25 year contract that was signed by Torys before this monstrosity was built. Import your rubbish come to Shrewsbury we burn anything how sad.


If this was done in secret, what other deals are Shropshire Council doing behind closed doors

reg jones

if you process rubbish in an MBT (mechanical and biological treatment) plant you can remove about 50% of the rubbish and turn it into recycling plastic, metal and stuff which is all in there (obviously it needs a good clean first) (but it can still be recycled) this works out cheaper and better than burning it

Robin Hood

What kind of a world do we live in when councillors make big decisions behind closed doors and committee papers have to have large sections blanked out when they are published in the local press. And when the Conservative Government tries to pass laws to stop campaigners challenging their decisions in the High Court.

Our country seems to be moving further and further towards a Tory dictatorship - we don't have democracy.

The Conservatives have to go at the next general election or we are doomed.

twisting my melon

Next they'll be making up a pack of lies and sending us to war against popular opinion...........oh no hang on a minute , that was Labour..

Robin Hood

It was Tony Blair who did that not "the Labour Party". Don't tar them all with the same brush.

twisting my melon

WHAT !!!!

roger cox

this pfi contract reminds me of the governments mess over aircraft carriers, or the nhs hospitals going bust as they spend over 10% of their turn over on debt repayments alone - PFI is proven to be the least value for money way to build anything - they are always restrictive, over budget, late and useless facilities built in secret with vast public subsidy - what a complete waste of taxpayers money these contracts are - i think they should just tear them up and if the public needs infrastructure it should be done through treasury funding with a public busniness case published to show the pay back period and value for money of the project - think how many new schools shropshire could have for this money? or a new bypass for shrewsbury, or a freeze in council tax for the next ten years - the list goes on all things would be better for shrewsbury

eva land

Are the Shropshire Star as impartial as they imply?

I wrote a letter regarding the fact that our public meetings should be being webcast by now as has been the situation with many other councils for a long time.

It makes it easier for the public to see what is going on and and Councillors therefore more accountable.

Has my letter been printed? NO!


So with this secret deal done, what else is being done behind closed doors? The new link road to aid transportation? No wonder our MP was so keen to re-start discussions.


Look it was always happen this so put up or shut up and stop moaning. It is actually a good thing as it means the town will be able to handle waste far better. You will all be moaning that it's too cold and wet next!

Shropshire Laddy

This isn't about the incinerator - it's about a total lack of democracy.

If there's nothing to hide, make decisions with the door open and release reports without heavy censorship.

Dodgy, dodgy, dodgy.


it is about the incinerator too - its worse for the environment co2 and costs more than landfill! thats why everyone is against it - the fact that democracy in shropshire is all secret handshakes is not news sadly thats the way its always done hence the voter turn out of 24% at some elections

mike perry

All that rubbish been burnt , It would make more sense if it was generating electricity for the estate and industrial units in Battle field enterprise park.


If this is not at all 'significant', but simply a 'modest variation in specification', why was it considered necessary to make the decision behind closed doors and blank out all the financial details from the published Freedom of Information response? And come to think of it, shouldn't it in truth be called a Restricted Freedom of Information response, as if Information was only to be allowed out after electronic tagging?


Because the variation is within the existing permissions and consents. So there's nothing to consult on. It's a non-issue.

Financial details are commercially sensitive. I deal with the public sector and I don't want my company's deals laid bare for the competition to scrutinise, thank you very much.


You miss the point. Why raise people's suspicions by making the decision behind closed doors when - apparently - the whole deal is so simple and straightforward that it could be passed quite easily by the built-in majority in open council?

And if Veolia hold a contract for 25 years, why should they be worried about 'the competition'?

Is this information that has been blanked out 'commercially sensitive' or just 'politically sensitive'?


"And if Veolia hold a contract for 25 years, why should they be worried about 'the competition'?"

Because the commercial information applies now and will be similar to other projects that they're bidding on.

Kev Pardy

They may not be impartial Eva but you are happy to use their stories to constantly bash councillors with your own misleading and misinformed contributions.

SY Paul

One thing to say: Thin end of the wedge.....! Don't trust anything you're told by the Tory Council. The Govt can't be trust, why would they have a change of heart once they're talking to THEIR Electorate. Only good thing is, it's another nail in their coffin. They WON'T get in next time. The electorate won't walk blindly into another term.


Why aren't Freedom of Information Requests available on the Council website anymore?

Salop ian

This is bad for the town pollution will deter tourism and effect agriculture it's not needed and it will suppress recycling and it's an eyesore


Agree totally. With the prevailing wind the incinerator is the wrong side of town. Exhaust gases will be blown across Shrewsbury rather than open countryside and will affect air quality.


better the prevailing wind takes the exhaust gases over the town where much of the waste will have come from then the countryside where little or non of it came from.


I'd like to think I'm wrong, but the council advertised large parts of the battlefield industrial estate as being a food manufacturers enterprise park, Heart of England Fine Foods developed an enterprise park to encourage small food producers. Sounds like encouraging news for small businesses and then .... Build a massive waste incinerator next door I the only one who understands that no like minded commercial food manufacturer will move to this area now? Yet another example of poor planning and management of the council's assets, but we foot the bill again ...


Heart of England Fine Foods was employed to manage the Council owned Food Enterprise Park which is right next door to the incinerator site. The food park was for local organic and fine food producers and I suspect the incinerator is a major factor in it still having empty units.

A couple of months ago, at 24 hours notice, on the instruction of a single cabinet member the council ended it's contract with Heart of England Fine Foods. The Food Park units are to be commercially let.

harry h

why should we know ? we only pay for it... i would prefer the money to go on better recycling myself - start by collecting my cardboard and have an automated recycling centre so we dont have to sort it out for them, that would win more votes and save more money than an incinerator!

Shrewsbury Mum

Things were bad enough when the Cabinet rubber-stamped all the decisions at Shropshire Council, but at least then on the whole the press and public were allowed in to hear what was going on. Now that Keith Barrow has ruled that decisions will be made by individual councillors, most meetings are held behind closed doors and even the pretense at democracy has gone. So much for transparency- people won't even know what is being discussed and will have to rely on the Shropshire Star pursuing Freedom of Information requests and passing on the scraps they are given months after things have gone through when it's too late. It's not good enough.

Councillors' decisions affect our lives and our communities- especially at the moment with cuts and austerity- and are funded by our council tax. We should be able to contribute to the debate and hear decisions being made being made if we want to- that is what democracy is all about. It is really worrying if we are left with closed doors, secret handshakes and the scraps of information left over when all of the 'sensitive' stuff has been removed. It looks like the only time that people will have any say on what goes on is when they tick a box in the elections. If that is all we are left with, I just hope that people use the one opportunity they'll get wisely and get out to vote for change next time they get the chance.

tim o

how on earth veolia havent lost the contract over the cardboard fiasco is beyond me, they are constantly cutting back on services to hike their profits and the council seems powerless to do anything about it - i think they should sack them and never employ veolia again , their name is mud i bet that nationally they will struggle when their contracts come up for review they will go bust as a company


how can you justify expanding the burner when waste levels continue to go down - i can only assume this is a pre-cursor to more cuts to our recycling services so they will deliberately create more rubbish to burn - what will they take away next - our paper collections? glass? or close the recycling centres? im sure more services will be cut a) to help pay for this thing and b) to feed it more rubbish

eva land

[Councillors' decisions affect our lives and our communities- especially at the moment with cuts and austerity- and are funded by our council tax. We should be able to contribute to the debate and hear decisions being made being made if we want to- that is what democracy is all about. It is really worrying if we are left with closed doors, secret handshakes and the scraps of information left over when all of the 'sensitive' stuff has been removed. It looks like the only time that people will have any say on what goes on is when they tick a box in the elections. If that is all we are left with, I just hope that people use the one opportunity they'll get wisely and get out to vote for change next time they get the chance.]

Have to agree Shrewsbury Mum but don't imagine voting will make any difference, it's not about party politics.

Look at other Council Websites and see how public meetings are available to be watched live or at a later date on the internet

[They may not be impartial Eva but you are happy to use their stories to constantly bash councillors with your own misleading and misinformed contributions.]

Looks like others are reading from the same hymn sheet, Councillor Pardy.

What's misleading about wanting more transparency and having the same accountancy of our local Council as other taxpayers have enjoyed for years?

Robin Hood

Whatever guff the Tory press has galvanised in the general public's mind about the Labour Party you cannot blame the last Labour Government for the global economic crash, nor can you say that the Labour Party, if/when they get in at the next election would steal from poor and give it to the rich.

Ed Miliband and his party would not force people working full-time on low pay to lose their benefits if they can't demonstrate that they are not actively seeking to earn more money. They would not have given a tax-break to millionaires at a time when poor working families are seeing their disposable income fall through the floor.

They would not be closing down A&E departments at a time when they can make money available to go to war with Syria.

I could go on. Labour isn't perfect but it is much, much better than the Conservative Government that we have now.


It's a non-issue which is being sensationalised by the Shropshire Star through use of certain words: "secret", "deal", "expansion", "controversial", "revealed", "thousands of tonnes" - all deliberately chosen to create a fuss. And they succeeded, by the looks of it.

The planning permissions and various consents were already agreed and the changes are within scope, with no changes to the permission already granted.

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