WITH just six weeks to go until Secretary of State Eric Pickles is due to make his decision on the Javelin Park incinerator, Stroud county councillor Sarah Lunnon is asking how much a ‘no’ verdict would cost taxpayers.
Cllr Lunnon (Green, Stroud Central) has joined with Liberal Democrat councillors to try and clarify the cost of cancelling the current contract with Urbaser Balfour Beatty for the proposed incinerator at Javelin Park.
The request will be made at the next Gloucestershire County Council meeting on Wednesday, September 10 – exactly one week before Mr Pickles is expected to make his decision.
GCC has already spent over £3 million of taxpayers’ money prior to the county council’s planning committee voting unanimously to reject the proposed incinerator in March last year.
UBB’s choice to appeal against the planning committee’s decision last summer has added an estimated £346,000 cost to taxpayers.
According to Cllr Lunnon the motion should make available vital information about how the expense of cancelling compares with the ongoing cost of not cancelling the contract.
“Enough is enough – for too long we’ve been left in the dark with regards to the costs involved with cancelling the contract,” she said.
“Knowledge of the cancellation costs and how they may be increasing the longer we delay is essential to understanding if the contract is still value for money.
“We cannot be custodians of taxpayers’ money without knowledge of the consequences of the cabinet's financial decisions."
Since plans for a £500 million waste incinerator at Javelin Park were first announced in 2012 there has been a great deal of protest against the proposal on the grounds of cost, impact and lack of need for the facility.
The county council’s planning department received more than 4,000 letters of objection to the scheme, which was also opposed by a host of local authorities, including Stroud District Council, Cheltenham Borough Council and Stonehouse Town Council, as well as a number of statutory bodies and conservation organisations, like English Heritage, Natural England and the Cotswold Conservation Board.
Simon Pickering, chairman of Stroud District Council’s environment committee said: “Burning waste is what we did in the middle ages. Greens in power will create a modern circular economy for waste, creating local jobs for local people, for the benefit of the next generation.”
Cllr Ray Theodoulou, deputy leader of GCC said: “The incinerator will save Gloucestershire taxpayers over £150m, as well as generating cheap electricity for the council, and disposing of Gloucestershire’s rubbish safely and cleanly.
“Losing those benefits will be much worse than any cancellation costs.
“You can’t put a figure on any cancellation costs before a cancellation takes place and we’ve told councillors that on a number of occasions.”