Seven waste Private Finance Initiative (PFI) projects have been chopped as a result of the Spending Review unveiled by chancellor, George Osborne, yesterday (October 20).

The seven local authorities losing funding are Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East; Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire (Project Transform); Gloucestershire; Leicestershire; Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire; the North London Waste Authority and the South London Waste Partnership (London Boroughs of Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton).

As a result of the cuts councils have virtually been thrown back to the drawing board, with one authority saying it was still waiting for more details and was hoping to find alternatives to its PFI plan.

The schemes are to be ditched as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has withdrawn the provisional allocation of PFI credits on the projects saying they will no longer be needed in order to meet the 2020 landfill diversion targets set by the European Union.

Defra hopes the move will reduce central government’s PFI expenditure by £3M a year in 2014 to 2015, rising to about £26M a year from 2017 to 2018 onwards.

Gloucestershire County Council chief executive, Pete Bungard, said: “The overall picture is that the situation for local government is very close to what we had expected.

“We’ve been planning for a 30% cut in funding over the next four years and this has more or less been confirmed.”

Speaking about the future of waste provision in the county, Mr Bungard, added: “We are waiting for more detail on what this means for Gloucestershire and will consider options for our proposals to find a viable alternative to putting our rubbish in landfill.”

On a brighter note projects sponsored by 11 other local authorities will keep their PFI credits and Defra has committed to supporting 21 other projects already signed off before the cuts.

Luke Walsh

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