WASTE plants dealing with Lancashire’s rubbish are being penalised after failing to meet recycling targets – just four years into a £2billion deal.

Too much household waste is being sent to landfill, despite the construction of two new state-of-the-art recycling-friendly plants at Farington, near Leyland, and Thornton, at a cost of £283million.

And the combined inefficiencies of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme has left a near £5million hole in the county council's accounts.

Taxpayers across Lancashire are already paying £400million in interest to Australian contractors Global Renewables Ltd (GRL) over the 25-year lifetime of the £2billion PFI deal.

Waste disposal authorities now face penalties of £150 for every extra tonne, over agreed limits, which goes to landfill instead of being recycled.

County Coun Bill Winlow voiced concerns about the impact of the GRL deal at a cabinet meeting.

“Have we got any idea when we will be back on target with this?” the Preston West member asked.

Jo Turton, county council environment director, said the shortcomings of the PFI deal were ‘obviously a huge pressure so it is one of our top priorities’.

“Both the Farington plant and the Thornton plant are not operating as we would want them to,” she added.

“We are making significant reductions to our payments because of the lack of performance here.

“There is also the issue of the odour problems with the Farington site.”

The rates going to landfill had been around 30 per cent recently, she told councillors, but checks at Thornton showed levels were at 50 per cent.

“There are very robust conversations taking place between the council to address this, with GRL,” said Mrs Turton.