Axe on PS62m funding for council waste plant deal; Future uncertain for rubbish disposal in Calderdale.
MILLIONS could be lost after the government pulled the plug on a Calderdale Council waste initiative.
Clr Tim Swift, council leader, spoke of his anger after discovering the government was axing PS62.1m funding for a new waste disposal plant they've been working on for four years.
The Labour leader said: "If the scheme is unable to proceed, then there are potential abortive costs running into millions of pounds."
Calderdale Council joined forces with Bradford Council to fund a waste management Private Funding Initiative (PFI) project to take away much of Calderdale's rubbish.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) agreed to put PS62.1m of Waste Infrastructure Credits towards the waste disposal plant.
Only ten days ago Calderdale Council, having risk-assessed and researched the project, agreed to borrow PS9.2m to fund their share of the scheme and Bradford were putting in PS30.8m.
The authorities would make massive savings each year by saving on landfill costs. They had no idea the government was re-assessing its funding of the scheme until they received a letter yesterday from Defra.
Clr Swift said: "This places serious doubts over the future of the project "This puts at risk a major investment that would have created jobs and provided a sustainable solution to dealing with the waste from both authorities.
"It was a robust environmentally sustainable solution which would virtually eliminate the use of landfill.
"This is a disastrous decision by the Government minister. They are already failing in their promises to invest in the infrastructure.
"Now they are damaging vital schemes that are ready to go ahead.
"I don't know what they're thinking.
If it doesn't go ahead who will be liable for the huge costs?" The government has also pulled funding for similar schemes in Merseyside and York.
Clr Swift and the leaders of the other authorities are now demanding a meeting with the government minister to find a way forward.
A spokeswoman for Defra told the Examiner: "We are investing PS3.6 billion in 29 waste infrastructure projects.
"This will reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, promote recycling and stimulate economic growth. "We now expect to have sufficient infrastructure in England to enable the UK to meet the EU target of reducing waste sent to landfill. Consequently the decision has been taken not to fund the remaining three projects.
"This does not necessarily mean the three projects will stop. That will be a decision for the local authorities concerned.
"We will continue to provide commercial and technical advice to those projects that continue with their procurement process".
| DEMANDING ANSWERS: Calderdale council leader, Clr Tim Swift (AC290512Acald-01)