PLANS to build a new incinerator serving Solihull and neighbouring areas will be like sending millions of pounds up in smoke according to a waste expert.
Electronics engineer Keith Kondakor of Friends of the Earth has worked on projects and advisory boards deciding on whether to build incinerators across the country.
Mr Kondakor obtained figures which he says show proposals for the multi-council waste plant would effectively cost the borough twice as much as running the current site in Coventry.
His comments were made as Solihull Council's cabinet members met in private last night to decide whether to submit a case to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) outlining plans for a Private Funding Initiative to pay for the incinerator.
'Project Transform' is a joint partnership between Solihull Council, Coventry Council and Warwickshire County Council, which if given the go ahead, will build the incinerator on a site close to the existing plant.
It is expected to cost the three councils £2.1 million with Solihull's cabinet last night recommended to approve the borough's contribution of £384,000.
"Planners have indicated they wish to build a larger incinerator five years earlier than scheduled," said Mr Kondakor. If they were to do this, by 2016, the annual charge after the PFI credit for Solihull to burn waste would be £90.58 per tonne, as opposed to £45.63 per tonne, which is the cost for the current plant."
He said Solihull will spend £2m a year on burning waste by 2018, which will go up to £4m if the new scheme was approved.
Coventry and Solihull councils currently send the majority of their residual waste to the existing Energy for Waste (EfW) facility in Coventry, while Warwickshire County Council sends over half its to landfills.
Leader of the council Ken Meeson, said ahead of yesterday's private meeting: "Solihull has a good record of recycling and waste management - the amount of waste we send to landfill is already less than 20 per cent which is low compared to other councils.
"We are working in co-operation with other local authorities to manage waste more effectively. We have looked at the financial costs for this project, which will be discussed in tonight's [last night's] cabinet meeting."