Shropshire Star

Outrage at £820,000 bill for Shrewsbury burner appeal

Outrage greeted today's news that Shropshire taxpayers must pay £820,000 to fund the Shrewsbury incinerator appeal.


Outrage greeted today's news that Shropshire taxpayers must pay £820,000 to fund the Shrewsbury incinerator appeal.

Campaigners say they cannot understand why Shropshire Council allowed there to be a clause in the 27 year contract it signed with Veolia Environmental Services in 2007, which meant the authority was left liable for 90 per cent of the costs of the hearing.

And they say their own grandchildren will still be paying the bill for an incinerator few people wanted.

Anti-incinerator campaigner Joyce Jagger, who runs the Battlefield 1403 site which includes a visitor centre near where the facility will be built, said she was 'shocked' by the costs and called for the council's contract with Veolia to be renegotiated.

"The whole thing is staggering and it is just shocking. If I start to think about it I get really worked up. The whole thing is just wrong," she said.

"I actually thought it would have been more than that. The council should renegotiate the contract. My grandson, who is six years old, will have to pay for this mistake as he grows up. The council has made a very bad mistake and we have had this incinerator foisted on us when nobody wants it.

"Shropshire Council will say the contract was signed before it became a unitary authority and they can't do anything about it but if it was a bad mistake then surely they should renegotiate the contract.

"If you have painting done in your house you get three contractors and then you take the best price and the best workmanship. We ought to have some comparative price for the waste contract and not just take Veolia as the only one."

Dave Green, of Shrewsbury Friends of the Earth which campaigned against the plans and was represented at the appeal, said: "We are not surprised by the figure released today and we even possibly expected it to be more. We think the contract was a bad contract and there was never any need for them to agree to pay for such a high proportion of Veolia's costs.

"If it is built, it will be the most expensive incinerator per tonne in the whole of the UK so if we have delayed the building of it we have actually saved the council some money.

"I have no idea why they've decided to release this information now as it would have come out eventually in their accounts.

"It's a lot of money and Shropshire Council should remember their own planning committee threw the plans out unanimously so there was a huge body of opposition to this development and it wasn't just a few people protesting."

Alan Mosley, leader of the Labour group at Shropshire Council, said he was stunned by the cost of the appeal, as well as comments by chief executive Kim Ryley's who said 'protesters should not think that the outcome of their challenges will have no costs which fall on the wider public to pay'.

Councillor Mosley said: "It is absolutely incredible that they are saying it is all down to the protesters. The statement is unbelievable. What Kim Ryley is saying is democracy should not apply in situations like this."

He added: "What has cost taxpayers is the ludicrous terms of the contract."

Shropshire Councillor for Belle Vue Mansel Williams said: "When Shropshire Council did their base budget they set aside £20,000 to help pay for the inquiry and said the original bill was £840,000. They said they would have to pay £20,000 per annum for the lifetime of the contract.At the time Keith Barrow said the idea that future cuts would be required to pay for it was nonsense. Well now we know it is double what was said then so it wasn't nonsense. It just shows up the vulnerability of that contract so I want to know who signed it on our behalf."

He added: "This is now going to cost us £40,000 per annum and how else will it be paid for if not through cuts."

Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski, who campaigned against the incinerator, was not available for comment today. Council leader Keith Barrow declined to comment about the issue when contacted today.

Council chief executive Mr Ryley said the appeal costs were 'small' in comparison with the total cost of the Veolia waste contract.

"Now the application has not only gone through the council's own rigorous planning system, it has also been carefully examined by an independent expert, who has decided there are no valid grounds on which to refuse the construction of the energy from waste plant," he said.

"In financial terms, the appeal cost is small compared to the total cost of the county's waste and recycling service over the length of this contract."

In January, 2009, John Collis, from Veolia, vowed the incinerator would cut the amount of waste going to landfill and would generate enough power to supply electricity to 10,000 homes.

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