Liberal Democrat Group Date: March 18 2011

Call for council to come clean on incinerator plans.

Leeds Liberal Democrat councillors are calling for clarity over the council’s plans to build an incinerator in East Leeds.

Currently the council is assessing two bids to build and operate the facility on two sites on or near the Cross Green area. The plant will process most of Leeds’ waste that currently goes to landfill and is scheduled to open from 2015.

The timescale for the project agreed in February 2010 said that a decision would be made on a preferred contractor in October that year. But the council’s website now says that this decision won’t be made until summer 2011. The council has not made clear the reason for this delay, whether the plans have changed, nor whether the change in timescales has cost the taxpayer money.

Councillors also want to know the status of a review on the issue that was announced by the Executive Member for Environmental Services last summer in a meeting of full council. He promised that members and the public would be consulted as part of this process but nothing along these lines has emerged.

The current leader of council, Keith Wakefield, also proposed a referendum on the waste PFI project in an amendment to the council’s budget in 2008. There has been no announcement from the council as to whether this will or won’t take place.

Cllr Ralph Pryke represents the area of East Leeds containing the sites of both proposed facilities. He criticised the lack of clarity on the issue.

Cllr Ralph Pryke (Lib Dem, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill) said:

“People in Burmantofts and Richmond Hill have a right to know what council plans are for an incinerator in the area.

“The decision has been delayed by quite some time yet we’ve not heard a peep about why this is, let alone any consultation with local people.

“If the plans have changed, they need to explain to residents what they are doing, as this is an issue that causes serious concern in the area.

“Right now we have an information vacuum which is being filled with misinformation and half truths as the council isn’t making it clear soon what it is doing.

Cllr Steve Smith (Lib Dem, Rothwell) said:

“The question of Cllr Murray’s review into this issue is a curious one. He clearly told us in July that one was taking place but we’ve not hear anything more about it since then. We’ve got no idea of the remit, timescale, cost or consultation levels of this review, let alone a final report.

“If he is proposing any substantial changes to the scheme then the people of Leeds need to be fully consulted. The lack of clarity on this issue is causing real concern to residents.

“Cllr Wakefield also promised the people of Leeds a referendum on this issue, yet we’ve got no idea whether this will or won’t be happening. The council needs to answer the question - what is going on?”