Two senior councillors have been banned from taking part in any discussions or votes relating to a new incinerator being built in their city ward or the facility’s bid for a controversial £1bn waste-burning contract.
Splott councillors Luke Holland and Huw Thomas – who are both cabinet members in the new Labour administration running Cardiff council – have been hit with the ban by the authority’s own lawyers.
It followed outspoken comments of their strong criticism of Viridor Waste Management, which last month began construction of a £185m incinerator at Trident Park, Glass Avenue, Splott.
The pair, elected at the local elections in May, are opposed to the scheme and have called for enforcement action against Viridor for allegedly violating conditions attached to the planning agreement.
Planning permission was granted in 2010, when the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru ran the council, and the plant is the front-runner for a £1.1bn contract – known as Prosiect Gwyrdd – to burn 180,000 tonnes of waste a year from across South Wales.
Despite opposition from the two ward councillors, their colleagues in the new Labour administration continue to support Prosiect Gwyrdd, which could see waste from across five local authorities trucked to Splott.
On Monday, Councillors Holland and Thomas were challenged to quit their cabinet posts over their administration’s support of Prosiect Gwyrdd by Dr Bablin Molik, the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Cardiff South and Penarth by-election.
Dr Molik, who is opposed to the incinerator, said: “Labour’s campaign leaflets throughout the election spoke about their objection to the incinerator being built in Splott. But just a few months later, we have two Splott Labour councillors objecting to the incinerator on the doorstep of the people of Splott but behind closed doors, at County Hall, they fully back the incinerator project at cabinet level.”
Hitting back, Coun Thomas – the cabinet member for sport – said he and Coun Holland had campaigned in the “strongest possible way” against the incinerator, adding: “We have always put our money where our mouth is on the incinerator.”
He said: “When it comes to continuing our fight, Luke and I have been banned from taking part in any cabinet or council decisions on the incinerator and Prosiect Gwyrdd because of our public campaigning, and our refusal to change our mind.
“But that won’t deter us – we will continue to fight tooth and nail to stop this development, even within the constraints of agreements crafted by the previous Lib Dem administration.”
Coun Holland, cabinet member for adult services, added: “Our position couldn’t be clearer – there should be no incinerator built in Splott. Where was Bablin Molik when her Lib Dem council granted planning permission?”