NORTHWICH politicians have called for the Lostock incinerator to be ‘kicked into history’ after it emerged the construction company building it has hit financial problems.

The £480m Lostock Sustainable Energy Plant (LSEP) was given planning permission by the government back in 2012 and is still under construction.

But controversy has surrounded fresh plans submitted by the company – which is a joint venture between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and FCC Environment – to increase capacity.

If given the go ahead, it would see the amount of waste burned rise from 600,000 to 728,000 tonnes a year, with a huge increase in the number of daily HGV movements from 262 to 434. Its opening hours would also be extended.

But it has now emerged that the French company constructing the plant, CNIM Environment & Energie EPC, has hit financial difficulties.

Parent firm CNIM has opened a safeguard procedure under the country's insolvency laws because of the financial and operational situation of its subsidiary. The procedure can last up to 12 months and, under French law, protects companies that are not in a state of insolvency to give them time to resolve their issues and continue their activities.

But Northwich Witton councillor Sam Naylor, who has been a vocal critic of the plans, said: “This is an indication of the underlying problems facing the whole outdated incineration industry and perhaps provides an opportunity for the Dutch/Spanish consortium financing LSEP, to reflect and pull the plug on this unwelcome, unwanted, outdated and highly polluting project.”

Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury has also hit out at the plans in the past. He added: “We have now got technology in other parts of Cheshire West that can deal with waste that previously had to be incinerated. Isn’t it about time the whole outmoded project was kicked into history?”

A spokesperson for LSEP Ltd, said: “LSEP Ltd is disappointed to learn that CNIM Environment & Energie EPC has announced that it has entered into administration.

“LSEP Ltd and its shareholders remain committed to delivering the project, which remains a financially robust and viable scheme.

"Construction is still ongoing at the site and LSEP Ltd and our project partners are now working together to identify the best way to complete construction of the project with minimal disruption.”

He added: “The LSEP will process 600,000 tonnes of waste per annum, which will contribute to the UK government’s strategy to reduce landfill and export of waste, powering roughly 110,000 homes and offsetting more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.”