THE ISLE of Man government, has postponed a £40 million waste incinerator scheme pending an inquiry.
A consortium headed by Kvaerner, selected as preferred bidder, has been told that the design, build, finance and operate project may be blocked because of fears raised by the director of public health.
The last-minute decision to call the inquiry has infuriated project directors, who claim all the environmental guidelines for the incinerator were followed and cleared in the early planning stages.
The hold-up centres on a draft report by American scientists, in which it is claimed that particles released into the atmosphere when domestic, clinical and animal waste is burnt are more dangerous than was previously thought.
But project experts have dismissed the research, saying that modern incinerators comply with strict environmental criteria and pose no threat.
Alan Blain, project manager for the department of local government and the environment, said: 'The decision was very late in the day and has held up the scheme.
We were due to start on site in June and we will now have to wait until October for Tynwald [the Manx government] to make a decision.
'We carried out an independent inspection as part of a public inquiry back in 1998, which satisfied the various requirements, and the scheme was given the go-ahead.
It took two years to get to that stage and we're keen to get the scheme off the ground.'
Ian MacLean, the island's director of public health, said: 'A number of individuals opposed to the incinerator brought this new research to light and, as an advocate of public health, I want to ensure it will be run within safe limits.
'It is unlikely that a plant of modern design would pose a problem but we want to make sure.'
Local subbies fear that their profits will be hit and jobs lost if the incinerator plan is scuppered.
A project source said: 'It's the second biggest construction project on the island behind the £80 million hospital in Douglas and, if scrapped, would have a huge impact on local business.
'We understood that many material suppliers and civil and formwork contractors were counting on the scheme.'
A final decision on the scheme is expected to be made by the Tynwald executive on October 17.