Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Cabinet fails to vote down Contract

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet today met to discuss whether it should terminate its Waste Contract with SITA. This follows the acknowledgement that SITA could not meet deadlines within the Contract and the Council therefore had the option to terminate or to ask SITA to bring forward a Revised Project Plan.

The Cabinet, with one abstention, voted to seek a Revised Project Plan from SITA.

I was the first of five councillors who spoke against the proposal and called on the Cabinet to properly explore the option of termination. Other speakers from the China Clay Area included Fred Greenslade from St Dennis and John Wood from Roche, as well as Roy Taylor from St Blaise.

I was extremely critical of the officer report which was presented to the meeting and stated that it would be too expensive to terminate the Contract. I described the report as “one-sided” and dismissed the claim that no alternative waste management facilities could be brought on stream until 2023 as incorrect.

I also hit out at claims about the costs of termination. Because in 2000, councillors were told that a single incinerator would cost £40 million. When the Contract was signed in 2006, this had risen to £96 million with a price guarantee. With inflation, this increases to £113-117 million but, now that the price guarantee is no longer in place, costs have been estimated to be over £150 million.

And yet, we have the same officer team is telling us that the termination of the Contract would cost £200 million. I simply could not accept these figures.

I took the opportunity to remind the Cabinet that, due to the Contract and associated procurement rules, the Revised Project Plan would still be based around a large incinerator in the China Clay Area. I said that I personally did not consider a revised plan for an incinerator in Mid Cornwall to be acceptable and asked the Cabinet whether they thought an incinerator plant, such as that proposed for St Dennis, would be acceptable outside the village of Mullion or Feock or at Fowey, or somewhere on the Roseland.

John, Fred, Roy and I appealed to the Cabinet to not uncritically accept this report, but to look seriously at the option to terminate the Contract and develop a more decentralised and more sustainable solution for Cornwall. Sadly, this fell on deaf ears at this juncture, though the Council retains the right to terminate for the time being.

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