Cost concerns raised over export strategy

RISING costs of Guernsey’s waste export strategy were was the focus of many concerns in the States yesterday as members voted through the latest report paving the way for export by the end of 2018.

Deputy Tony Spruce, a former PSD board member, said he was sceptical about the direction and assumptions made by the department over its export-based waste strategy. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 1320982)
Deputy Tony Spruce, a former PSD board member, said he was sceptical about the direction and assumptions made by the department over its export-based waste strategy. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 1320982)

Capital costs of £33m. are predicted, up from £29.5m. in 2014, and operational costs of £298m. over the life of the 20-year strategy.

Households face average weekly waste bills around double what they are paying now.

Policy & Resources now has delegated authority to sign off the final contracts.

In summing up, States’ Trading Supervisory Board president Charles Parkinson said that the estimated costs has been ‘woefully inadequate’.

He accepted some were unhappy with the strategy but now was not the time to revisit it.

‘It’s my intention to deliver the strategy within the figures that are in front of us,’ he pledged.

Deputy Neil Inder highlighted the cost of the £25.6m. transfer station – including £2.6m. for design, £4.6m. for preliminaries and project management and in comparison £5.7m. for the actual plant.

He warned the States was about to vote through an implementation document that, by its own admission, was likely to push further islanders into the scope of the benefits system.

Deputy Richard Graham was among those concerned about giving delegated authority to Policy & Resources to sign off on the contracts, given the history of rising costs.

Deputy Heidi Soulsby asked if could for a post-implementation reviews of the project could be made public when they were completed. She had an assurance from Deputy Charles Parkinson that he would make a statement if the costs went above what was in the policy letter.

Funding the capital elements from the bond concerned Deputy Laurie Queripel.

Because interest would have to be paid, it raised the final capital costs by £19.5m. at a rate of 5%, although it is hoped this will be lower.

‘By using the bond we are inflating the costs for the householder,’ said Deputy Queripel.

His concerns about using the bond were echoed by deputies Carl Meerveld, Matt Fallaize and Chris Green.

An apology was owed to the people of Guernsey, Deputy Peter Ferbrache said, over money spent on aborted strategy and figures in the export strategy in 2012 and 2014 that were ‘abjectly wrong’.

‘It was absolutely incompetent and useless,’ said Deputy Ferbrache.

Deputy Matt Fallaize argued the export strategy costs were comparable with the Suez plant from 2009.

The issue was with the charging mechanism which needed to be changed to limit the disproportionate burden on people of limited means.

Employment & Social Security president Michelle Le Clerc said it was important discussions began soon about how her committee would help through the benefits system.

Scrutiny should investigate why the original costings in 2012 were so ‘hopelessly out,’ Deputy Mark Dorey said.

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