Defra’s oversight of three PFI waste projects

Inquiry status: inquiry launched.

Defra is responsible for meeting 1999 European Union directive targets for reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill in England. To meet these targets, it has established a Waste Infrastructure Delivery Programme, designed to provide local authorities with the necessary financial and technical support to invest in waste disposal infrastructure. Under this Programme, Defra is providing £1.7bn of grants through a PFI credit mechanism to 28 local authority projects. As a result, it has met the 2010 EU target and is on track to meet the 2020 target. This inquiry was triggered by a high volume of correspondence about three PFI waste incinerator projects in Herefordshire & Worcestershire, Norfolk and Surrey. Under the Programme, Defra has committed £205m of waste infrastructure credits to Surrey County Council and £113m of credits jointly to Herefordshire Council and Worcestershire County Council. In October 2013, Defra withdrew £91m of credits it had previously allocated to Norfolk County Council. This inquiry will examine the effectiveness of Defra’s support to the four local authorities and the challenges to value for money.

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