West Midlands MEP James Carver has accused both the councils in Hereford in Worcester of playing fast and loose with the public’s purse.
The UKIP MEP says an agreement to borrow £165 million from the Government’s Public Works and Loans Board (PWLB) to build an incinerator, is a foolhardy and unnecessary gamble.
Mr Carver described the whole situation a “fiasco” and was a “total insult to hard-pressed local taxpayers of both counties.”
The local MEP recently met with local residents to discuss the protracted saga.
Residents say that the PWLB handed over millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money for a project, which at the time, did not have a proper final business case.
The overall cost of the project which is being extended to 2042, is estimated to be £1.65 billion. This is in addition to the current Private Finance Initiative (PFI) which already sees taxpayers’ stumping up millions of pound more than is necessary.
A recent NAO investigation into 3 PFI waste contracts including this project, revealed that the average cost of treating waste per tonne was £78.
Both councils pay much more than this already and this cost is set to rise to £125 per tonne to burn waste resulting in unnecessary costs of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money at a time of deep austerity cuts. Many councils are being paid for their recycling and using the money to offset costs.
Mr Carver said: “I am deeply troubled by this whole project and by the fact that the National Audit Office and Defra are aware of the serious financial implications yet have taken no action.
"Defra has already handed over £98 million since 1998, after admitting that there was probably never a business case then, so what has this money been spent on?
"The Local external auditors Grant Thornton have been asked to look into a number of issues including Value for Money; taxpayers hope that their issues are being taken seriously as the auditors seem to be dragging their feet. I will be raising my serious concerns about this dire situation with each of the relevant departments involved.
“I was great to meet up with resident at the recent opening of my MEP office in Kidderminster and they can be rest assured that I will do everything in my power to support their fight.
“At the end of the day there is an oversupply of incinerators which are all chasing rubbish to burn. It appears these councils are playing fast and loose with the public’s purse – they must have money to burn”.