Newport incinerator plans ‘all but dashed’
PLANS for a waste incinerator in Newport were all but dashed today after a multi-million pound contract was recommended for a company proposing to build in Cardiff.
The Prosiect Gwyrdd scheme has recommended Viridor's plans for a waste burner in the Welsh capital to its five council backers - including three from Gwent.
The decision has to be ratified by each council but it means there would have to be a U-turn for French-waste firm Veolia to get the consortium's contract to burn non-recyclable rubbish at the Llanwern Steelworks site.
It was unclear yesterday if Veolia will push ahead with a planning appeal but the move does mean that, if approved, non-recyclable waste from Newport, Monmouthshire and Caerphilly county will be burned in the capital instead of buried.
Councils have looked for an alternative to burying waste in light of Welsh Government targets to reduce what is sent to landfill - imposed because of potential EU fines for countries that don't comply with European directives.
Incinerating waste instead of land-filling it will cost the five authorities involved £440 million between them - with 25 per cent of the cost being covered by the Welsh Government.
Andrew Kerr, chairman of Prosiect Gwyrdd, said the scheme is the biggest collaboration project in Wales and one of the largest in the UK.
He said councils will save more than £500 million by burning waste instead of land-filling it So far Prosiect Gwyrdd, which was kick-started seven years ago, has cost the five authorities around £5 million with the Welsh Government providing £1.7 million.
Yesterday officers did not divulge the reasons why Veolia wasn't picked - instead saying that Veolia came "second best" when compared to Viridor in a list of criteria.
However they said the lack of planning permission, the siting of the project next to a housing development or the political opposition to the Newport plan were not considerations.
Veolia is likely to be retained as a "reserve bidder" as a fall-back on if needed - contracts are not due to be signed until July.
The Viridor site could be up and running by April 2016 with the contract set to run 25 years.
The preferred bidder status for Viridor will be confirmed at a meeting of the Prosiect Gwyrdd cross-council joint committee on February 7, and needs to be approved by each authority between February 26 and March 6.
Campaigners still fighting incinerator
THE firm behind the Llanwern scheme wished Prosiect Gwyrdd "every success" - but held back on whether it would continue with fighting a planning appeal.
However Newport anti-incinerator campaigners remain committed to fighting the company and the South Wales incineration scheme.
Veolia - which in 2012 lost a bid for planning permission for an incinerator that would have burned 250,000 tonnes of rubbish a year - said it believed the plan was sympathetic to the environment.
It said it would have been a unique opportunity to provide heat and power to the nearby Tata steelworks.
But a spokesman added: "We respect the decision of the Prosiect Gwyrdd Board and wish them every success in the future.”
Rob Hepworth of the Stop Newport Incinerator Campaign said the "people and wildlife of the Gwent Levels are probably safer" following the announcement.
However he said the people of Gwent were still threatened by the Cardiff incinerator which will cost taxpayers and "undo all the good work we have done in recycling waste".
Mr Hepworth said they "have to make sure that the reject of Veolia's planning application at Llanwern is upheld at the public enquiry next July".