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Council wins judicial review of waste plant funding
Bradford Council’s request for a judicial review of the Government’s 11th hour decision to withdraw cash from a £300 million contract to deal with household waste has been given the go ahead.
Bradford and Calderdale Councils last night said they had been granted leave to bring a judicial review of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) decision to withdraw £62.1 million of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) credits from the councils’ waste project.
The decision by the Government earlier this year left the Councils’ plans in tatters and cost the authorities £5m.
The councils said they had no prior consultation or notice of the DEFRA decision in February, which came only weeks before the contract was due to be signed with consortium, Pennine Resource Recovery, which had expected to start construction of an energy-from-waste plant in Bowling Back Lane, Bradford, within months.
The credits of £62.1m from DEFRA had been vital to the affordability of the scheme, essentially subsidising the capital costs of the project.
The councils are now seeking a reconsideration on “lawful and properly-informed ground and/or compensation for the significant and avoidable financial loss that has been suffered”.
“By its withdrawal of the waste PFI credits at the eleventh hour DEFRA pulled the rug from under our long-term solution for dealing with the district’s waste in a sustainable way. This project would have diverted almost all of our waste away from landfill in the face of rising landfill taxes. This is why we felt we had no choice but to challenge DEFRA’s decision through the courts.
“What is especially enraging about this whole thing is that just weeks after government pulled its support for this project they put landfill tax up by 12.5 per cent, significantly increasing the cost of waste disposal for Bradford’s Council Tax-payers.
“DEFRA say that they don’t need this plant to meet their national target for diverting waste from landfill. If that is the case then why do they continue to increase landfill tax? That’s just a tax on local councils and a double-whammy for our council tax payers.”
The project would also have provided about 300 construction jobs during a three-year period and around 80 operation jobs.
Bradford Council leader David Green, visited Lord de Mauley, the parliamentary under secretary of state at DEFRA, to get answers about the 11th hour withdrawal this year with Coun Green saying afterwards they were still waiting for answers.
The plant was expected to process 193,000 tonnes of waste per year and would have diverted most of Bradford’s and Calderdale’s waste away from land-fill, and provided enough electric power to heat 20,000 homes, as well as dramatically increasing recycling rates for both local authorities.
Bradford Council said it was now known DEFRA was reviewing its support for the waste project last November, and costs of £2.7m could have been saved if the councils had known about the review at that stage.
The review process could take 12 months and the interim waste contract is in place until 2017.
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