PLANS to build two giant waste-burning incinerators on Merseyside have been thrown into chaos.

Leading politicians last night said they will ?robustly challenge? the need for the 300,000-tonne plants.

They also lashed out at Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority for ?riding roughshod? over the views of the borough councils.

Since 2005, the body has been drawing up detailed plans for the ?thermal treatment works?. It has shortlisted companies to build the plants and secured ?90m of private finance initiative (PFI) credits from the Government as a key plank in a ?3bn procurement programme.

But Merseyside?s elected leaders are now set on changing the waste organisation?s policies.

Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley said incineration was not ?the only ball in the game?.

He said: ?We employ, on behalf of the city region, the Waste Disposal Authority to act in our best interests, and I don?t think they are acting in our best interests by riding this one trick pony on the waste agenda.?

He and the four other Merseyside council leaders met to discuss a draft waste strategy. The Daily Post understands a final report later this month will try to change MWDA plans.

The MWDA has said it wants to build the largest waste sites in the ?vicinity? of where the M62 crosses the M57, and where the M57 crosses the East Lancs Road. Both Knowsley and Liverpool councils have passed strongly-worded policies condemning incineration.

Cllr Bradley continued: ?The policy is that we will not have incineration or thermal hot waste disposal within Liverpool and we will oppose it strongly.

?You can?t just ride roughshod over those views ? the local authority will stand against you.?

Cllr Bradley said there were ?health issues? with incinerators and objected to any PFI scheme because it tied councils into a facility that could be obsolete before it is paid for.

Steve Foulkes, leader of Wirral Council, said: ?We have robustly challenged the level of need [for incinerators].

?There are other methodologies where one can turn waste into fuel without burning anything.?

The leaders could pressure the authority to engage with private companies setting up treatment plants across Merseyside.

Cllr Bradley said Biossence ? which is planning a 400,000-tonne treatment plant in Eastham, Wirral ? present a ?reasonable way to go forward?.

Its Hooton Park plant will use steam to clean and separate raw waste. The remaining ?organic matter? will be turned into gas for power.

The MWDA called for dialogue to resolve any dispute.

A spokesman said: ?MWDA has been informed that the meeting was one of a private and confidential nature.

?However, if leaders and chief executives at the meeting did refer to issues relating to household waste and its recycling and disposal then MWDA would hope to be part of any discussions that might follow.?

She added a joint strategy for waste and new facilities was recently updated and sets out agreed principles for the delivery of waste management over the coming decade.

Private sector could offer alternatives to out-of-favour landfill culture

MERSEYSIDE Waste Disposal Authority deals with the waste of all five Merseyside borough councils and Halton.

In 2006/07, it dealt with 800,000 tonnes of household rubbish and buried 600,000 tonnes in landfill sites.

Last year, it recycled just under 30% of the region?s domestic waste.

It hopes to increase that recycling rate to 40% by 2020.

The private sector could offer possible alternatives to new public-owned waste plants.

Ineos Chlor is hoping to curb its ?100m-a-year electricity bill by burning Merseyside?s rubbish ? along with that of Warrington, Halton and Greater Manchester ? and using the heat to generate power.

Its controversial ?330m plans received a green light from the Government in September. Biossence and New Earth Solutions have joined forces to build two waste treatment plants that could eventually handle 600,000 tonnes of rubbish a year.

It already has planning permission from Wirral for a 400,000-tonne site in Eastham and an application is expected shortly for another in Widnes.

Jack Allen Holdings also has plans for a 300,000-tonne treatment plant near Garston. Merseyside could be stung by huge fines under European plans to limit the amount of rubbish buried in landfill tips.

It is already set to exceed its landfill limit for the next four years.

To offset part of this, in January, MWDA spent ?3.4m buying 170,000 tonnes of landfill credits to see it through to 2013.

But that still leaves 133,000 tonnes too many being buried in the ground.