UPDATE: Could Newport pull out of South Wales waste scheme?
A MEMBER of the ruling Labour group at Newport council says there are serious questions over plans to tie in the authority into a 25-year contract to burn rubbish.
Newport council is due next Tuesday to approve a business case for Prosiect Gwyrdd, which will see non-recyclable rubbish burned in a Cardiff incineration plant.
But one councillor in the ruling group, who did not want to be named, says the multi-million pound scheme has huge implications for Newport which will be tied into a contract for a quarter of a century.
Newport would not be alone in the deal, with Prosiect Gwyrdd being formed as a collaboration between the city, Caerphilly council, Monmouthshire, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.
The Argus understands that the Labour group is yet to discuss the matter.
The councillor has not indicated where their vote will lie.
If the council was to pull out of the scheme, set to launch in 2016, it would cost it at least £3 million in penalties.
"The length of the contract is an issue," said the councillor. "We are being asked to look at a contract that is going to affect not just our children but our children's children.
"It's a long time to be committing to one means of waste disposal."
The councillor claimed that the amount of waste that would be feeding the incinerator has been in decline, with reductions thanks to the efforts made to recycle in Wales.
He also raised fears that any harmful effects from pollutants would have an effect on people in Newport - despite official advice from Health Protection Agency that there is no significant impact.
The proposed incinerator, being built by waste firm Viridor, is located in Spytty, in Cardiff.
A report to council says the scheme will cost the authority £68 million over the life of the scheme - estimating it will be £60 million cheaper than continuing to put rubbish in landfill.
Councils have been motivated by Welsh Government to seek new solutions for waste in the face of potential European fines for missing landfill targets.
Councillors will have to approve the full business case for Prosiect Gwyrdd, and Viridor as a perferred bidder for the scheme, at the full council meeting on Tuesday.
A planned incinerator for Llanwern did not win approval by officers working on the project.
The business case, which will need to be approved by each partner authority, also needs approval from the Welsh Government which is covering part of the cost.
Newport have right to pull out of waste group A GREEN campaigner says that Newport councillors have every right to pull out of Prosiect Gwyrdd.
Pippa Bartolloti of the Stop Newport Incinerator Campaign claimed her group was advised by a barrister that the £3 million penalty need not be paid if circumstances change - such as if a new technology is found.
"Newport can have every right to say hang on a minute, everything has changed, and look at other ways to dispose of our waste. If they have got the guts they will do it," she said.
However opposition councillor David Fouweather claimed the council can't pull out and warned that the council could have to fill a financial black hole if it did.
He highlighted that savings from the scheme were included in the base budget.
A spokesman for Prosiect Gwyrdd said: "Given the financial benefit of the Prosiect Gwyrdd scheme, the Project doesn’t believe there is any merit for Newport Council to leave the procurement. The cost of up to £3 m for leaving the procurement is legally binding and set out in the Joint Working Agreement between the 5 partner authorities.
The only reason where a withdrawal wouldn't incur a charge is if the price received from the tendering process was higher than the affordability agreed in the Outline Business Case. The price received is approximately half of the cost of the projected affordability, ensuring excellent value for money.
"25 year contracts are industry standard regardless of the technology proposed. Modern incineration operates under the most stringent conditions and their contribution to air pollution is very small, yet the benefits in diverting waste from landfill sites and producing green energy are significant."