Council calls for judicial review on waste centre decision

Capiton: Profile, Jan 26, Halifax''Halifax Town Hall
Capiton: Profile, Jan 26, Halifax''Halifax Town Hall

Calderdale Council has applied for a judicial review of a government decision to remove funding for a waste treatment plant.

The joint venture with Bradford Council, at Bowling Back Lane, Bradford, was expected to process 193,000 tonnes of waste per year and would have diverted most of the authorities’ waste away from landfill.

However, the Department for Environment Food an Rural Affairs (DEFRA) withdrew £62.1 million of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) credits from the project without any consultation or prior notice.

It is now known that Defra was reviewing its support for the waste project back in November 2012. Costs of around £2.7million could have been saved had Defra informed the councils about the review at this stage.

The judicial review application is based on: whether Defra had the authority to withdraw the credits, whether the decision to withdraw the credits was lawful and taken for proper reasons, whether the councils should have been advised by Defra that it was reviewing its support for the project back in November 2012 and whether Defra should have consulted with the councils about its assessment of the Bradford and Calderdale project before arriving at its decision.

Councillor Tim Swift, leader of Calderdale Council, said: “We feel that Defra’s decision has left us with no option but to apply for a judicial review. The investment in a new waste treatment plant should have led to major savings for Council Tax payers in both local authorities, yet instead we are now left with major costs.

“The impact of Defra’s decision is detrimental not only to the local economy of both Calderdale and Bradford, but also to the environment, leaving both councils with the major problem of how to get rid of our waste in the future.”

The councils have examined the prospects of continuing the waste project without credits, but the loss of Government funded PFI credits would make it far too expensive or would expose both councils to an unacceptable financial risk.

The Government funding was worth over £120m over the 25 year lifetime of the project. Without this funding the council says the project is not financially viable.