DEFRA announced yesterday that seven regional authorities had completed the initial step in obtaining PFI funding for waste management projects.
The progression from disposal using landfill to incineration gathered pace for the successful authorities, who must now submit their outline business cases by April next year.
Authorities winning approval are: Norfolk, Milton Keynes, Gloucestershire, Essex, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, and Staffordshire County Councils. Two further projects - the North London Waste Authority, and Plymouth City Council together with Devon County Council and Torbay County Council - may still join the award round.
£2bn was allocated to funding PFIs for waste management in the last Comprehensive Spending Review, on top of an initial £2bn.
The move will help Government meet the EU landfill directive targets for diverting 40% of the UK's household waste from landfill by 2020.
Environment Minister Joan Ruddock said: "Each of these projects plans to deliver major waste infrastructure to help reduce the amount of England's waste ending up in landfill. This reduction is an essential part of the drive to tackle climate change and meet the UK's landfill targets."
Staffordshire County Council's municipal waste strategy director, Ian Benson, is optimistic about his authority's plans, which will include a 300,000 tonne per year incinerator maximised for CHP.
Speaking to NCE, he said: "We're building a plant at Four Ashes which, for economy of scale reasons, we'll be contracting with Warwickshire & Walsall County Councils to take some of their waste."
The PFI funding would be a welcome boost to Staffordshire's Zero Waste to Landfill by 2020 project, which is targeted to deliver economic as well as environmental benefits.
Ian continued: "By the time it opens you'd expect it to be competitive with landfill on a price per tonne basis. In our conservative view, we expect that price to be very close to landfill rates in 2013."
If Staffordshire County Council's outline business case is approved, they expect to put out to tender next summer.