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UK county shoots down waste-to-energy deal

United Kingdom – Norfolk county councillors in the UK have decided to pull the plug on a controversial £500 million (US$ 830 million) waste-to-energy contract with Cory Wheelabrator, Letsrecycle has reported. They have voted unanimously against the 25-year deal – a move which the consortium has dubbed ‘extremely disappointing’.

The council signed the contract with Cory Wheelabrator in February 2012 and now faces paying some £30 million (US$ 50 million) in compensation. The planned Willows facility would have processed a little under 270 000 tonnes of Norfolk′s household waste each year while also recycling metals and ash on-site. The recovered energy would have had the potential to power approximately 36 000 homes.

Intense opposition relating to the high costs of the project is said to have tempered the council′s commitment, causing multiple delays. A new report on the deal showed that the estimated £250 million (US$ 416 million) worth of tax savings over the 25-year period would have ′completely flat-lined′ by June this year. This followed the move by the UK′s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to pull £169 million (US$ 280 million) funding for the project last October.

The jeopardy of uncertainty

Cory Wheelabrator expresses regret that the many years of hard work by all parties involved have been in vain. ′The Willows project looks set to become yet another example of this delay and uncertainty,′ a spokesperson comments. ′We, and the industry, have also made it clear to government that planning delays to major infrastructure projects are costly and can jeopardise future investment – especially at a time when public funds are already stretched.′

The neighbouring council in Suffolk has said it is ′open to discussion′ with Norfolk over sharing some excess capacity to treat household waste at its Great Blakenham site which is due to open this December.

For more information, visit: www.coryenvironmental.co.uk

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