Monday, 11 March 2013

Lab rams through privatisation Prosiect Gwyrdd/incinerator 25yr contract

At the Council meeting on 28th, the P Gwyrdd contract for Viridor (25 years, £600mM total, £250 million from Cardiff) was rammed through. The Splott Councillors absented themselves - Luke Holland away ill, Gretta Marshall and Huw Thomas failed to use their rights under the Localism Act to speak representing their electorate (and didn't use the normal 'dispensation' to speak against Labour group decision). They quit the meeting, leaving Cllrs Goodway and Govier with their commitment to P Gwyrdd free to ram though the approval of Viridor as preferred bidder (contract to be finalised in June or July).  No-one spoke in objection over the 'grave misconduct' by Viridor whose unlawful building allows the Council to rule out this company.

Cllr McEvoy objected he'd been unable to view the documents because of the special 'security' that requires Cllrs to use particular computers in the Council office, or to pour through a foot-high pile of printed documents there. He opposed approval, talking of health risk, and saying Plaid favours alternatives to waste incineration. Deputy Leader Ralph Cook dismissed this with “I'm no environmental fundamentalist”. The Council had settled the issue in a debate in 2009 (which McEvoy had accepted). Bumbling Cllr Govier said they had no predisposed ideas on health effects, incinerators are cleaner than landfills and it saves landfill costs of £400M over 25 years, net saving of £157M.

The chair of the Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Derbyshire in discussion prior to the meeting, excused their failure to scrutinise this highly costly proposal and lengthy commitment because of the short-time allowed for decision (in contrast, the VoG held an extraordinary Scrutiny Committee on it). A recording of the meeting is on the Council website.
Following the majority approvals of Viridor's planning application on 13th February, Richard Buxton law firm are expanding their High Court action to cover a challenge to these new decisions, challenging the Council head-on this time.
False and Biased claims by the Project
Prosiect Gwyrdd's Press Release of 7 March quotes Cllr Russell Goodway, Chairman of the Joint Committee for Prosiect Gwyrdd,as saying:
“The new Joint Committee which was formed following the May local elections has ensured that the project has been scrutinised in detail...”
The Minutes of the Joint Cttee give no evidence of detailed scrutiny, not in the Cttee or in officer reports. The first two meetings (July and Sept) were held in secret with no public Minutes, under the false claim that they were briefing meetings alone.
Cllr Goodway refused to meet with critics, asserting that the “incineration ship has already sailed” (14 October 2012, letter to R Hepworth/SNIC).
Cllr Govier met with CATI – his reply of 7th Sept. shows he was misinformed on the waste prevention/reduction target set by the Welsh Government in July.  He writes their "figure quoted of 1.2% pa is based on the national figures for Wales" so PG disregards it for figures based on the 5 partnering authorities... and the predicted population growth".  This shows he's not aware that 1.2% is a target and that waste increases from population increases is a separate factor. Over the 30 years, 1.2% pa aggregates to a 30% reduction in waste flows, much more than PG's 20% maximum flexibility.

Prosiect Gwyrdd's Press Release of 7 March claims savings of £500 million to the partnership as compared to landfill over the 25 years. This is a fictitious figure, dependent on the exaggerated projections of waste, low recycling rates and disregarding the Welsh waste prevention target.

Welsh waste prevention target.
This is set for LA municipal waste at 1.2% p.a., though recent reductions have been faster and the overall waste reduction target for Wales is 1.5% pa. PG conceals this target, mentioning only targets “set in law” in the Press Release.
They falsely write:
The Project will supply a Guaranteed Minimum Payment to Viridor, based on a waste tonnage that has been predicted on achieving the Welsh Government waste targets. The waste projections over the contract term are based on current recycling rates, future recycling rates and population growth over the contract term.
Note: this is untrue – the tonnage was derived ignoring the waste prevention target.

Hazardous nature of bottom ash
PG write:

Claims are made by campaign groups against incineration that the ash from this process is ‘toxic’. The Environment Agency advice on IBA is that it can be recycled and they are developing a quality protocol to ensure this waste is diverted from landfill.

This is misrepresentation. Incinerator bottom ash is well-known to be 'toxic' rather than 'inert' as Viridor and the incineration industry claim (Atkins report to Cdf Council, Sept'13). The Environment Agency agrees (Atkins report and Dr Allen at the Viridor Liaison Cttee) that the ash is potentially 'hazardous' waste (under European definitions) and has to be tested.

The Environment Agency has been “developing a quality protocol” for IBA for several years; there is no indication that any protocol with emerge, indeed the argument has moved to registering IBA under the REACH chemicals legislation.

Hazards to Health
PG refer only to the 'Health Protection Agency' finding of 2009 and earlier. They ignore the evidence accepted by the PG Scrutiny Committee from Prof. Howard and others, giving updated information and covering wider scientific evidence than the HPA. They also ignore that the Senedd Petitions Committee accepted similar evidence from Prof. Howard too, and concluded that further studies are needed. 

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