AN AMERICAN waste company will operate a controversial new incinerator after Flintshire Council said it could cost £70m to stop the scheme.
Wheelabrator Technologies Inc emerged as the sole bidders for the £800m project following a lengthy process and have been granted the chance to run the huge incinerator on Deeside Industrial Estate.
The decision was made at a Flintshire Council cabinet meeting yesterday after councillors said they were happy the company had allayed concerns regarding the potential for harmful emissions at the site, which will treat 175,000 tonnes of residual waste each year from across North Wales and convert it into reusable energy.
After the meeting, a political spat erupted after Bernie Attridge, deputy leader of Flintshire Council, said former leader Cllr Arnold Wolley should resign “in shame for stitching up the good people of Deeside with an incinerator”.
Cllr Attridge had been unable to take part in the debate about the incinerator because of previous comments.
He said on Twitter: “I have previously nailed my colours to the mast in my opposition to a burner on Deeside.
“The blame clearly lies at the door of the previous leader who is still in denial that he signed up to it.”
Reacting to the comments, Cllr Woolley said: “He has a very short memory and a total lack of understanding over when this all started, who has been involved in it and when opportunities to pull out might or might not have existed.
“He’s talking utter rubbish to protect Labour’s interests.
“If anybody wishes for a six-page detailed resume of the process from start to finish I can provide them with it. I’m happy to provide a copy to Bernie because he doesn’t seem to remember or understand the entire process.
“I am anti-incinerator and when it comes to the vote in council, my hand will go up to say no. Where will Bernie’s hand go?”
It is planned the controversial facility will become fully operational by September 2018.
Council chief executive Colin Everett said: “Air quality is the thing that concerns the public the most.
“Flintshire Council has pushed for the highest possible standards.
“We fully believe in this project and it is our duty to deliver it.”
Cllr Kevin Jones, cabinet member for waste strategy confirmed both Flintshire Council and WTI have pushed to ensure emissions are fewer than those required by EU directives.
He said: “We’ll be going way beyond the norm with regards to emissions. They will be monitored and measured on a regular basis. We are going the extra mile to ensure public safety and health.”
Cllr Chris Bithell added: “Health will not be endangered and that is vitally important.”
The scheme has been six years in the making and each of the five North Wales councils involved have agreed in principle to payments in respect of a community benefit fund for Flintshire totalling £180,000 per year throughout the project’s expected 25-year lifespan.
However, the project has proved unpopular with some councillors who claim their hands have been tied by decisions made by the previous administration, leaving them no choice other than to see the scheme through without investigating alternatives or incur huge financial costs of up to £71m.
Cllr Christine Jones said: “We can’t get out of it. We have to go forward.
“But my main concern was for the health of residents and that appears to have been addressed.”
Steffan Owen, project manager on the North Wales Residual Waste Treatment Project said: “Emissions are a concern of local people.
“Monitoring has been going on for a few years and we’ve good data.
“It shows there is significant headroom before any air quality standards would be breeched.”
Wheelabrator Technologies Inc describes itself as a world leader in the safe and environmentally sound conversion of municipal solid waste – and other renewable waste fuels – into clean energy.