The man at the helm of a working group examining plans to build a nuclear waste storage site off the Lincolnshire Coast could earn more than £100,000 in a year.
Former Labour Nottingham City Council leader Jon Collins was selected to chair the Working Group into the Theddlethorpe Geological Disposal Facility in October.
Now a Freedom of Information Request by Christopher Gibbons has revealed how much he will be paid for his role.
The FOI said: “The Independent chair […] is paid a day rate of £1,000. The amount paid depends on the number of days worked which is estimated at two days per week.”
The working group is estimated to last between six to 12 months before deciding whether to take the project further, meaning Mr Collins could end up earning between £52,000 and £104,000 – the latter figure being far above the basic £81,932 annual payment for a local MP.
Campaigners said the FOI response called into question Mr Collins’ independence.
There is also concern that more than £100,000 of taxpayer’s money could go to someone presiding over a group which might result in nothing.
A statement from the Guardians Of The East Coast (GOTEC) said: “Such a salary calls into question the whole notion of Jon Collins’ independence.
“As Mrs Thatcher once said about the unions supporting the labour party: ‘He that pays the piper, calls the tune.’
“By offering more than we pay MPs for a full-time job, for only two days a week, RWM is making it highly unlikely that the independent chair will steer the group in any direction other than that chosen by his paymasters.”
The group added that RWM had a majority of members on the working group and they felt it was a certainty the project would progress to the next stage.
They have renewed calls for Lincolnshire County Council and East Lindsey District Council to use “the only power our councillors have in this group – to withdraw”.
“If both councils withdraw, the working group can no longer function,” said the statement.
An RWM spokesperson said: “The role of Working Group chairs is pivotal to help lead discussions within local communities on potentially hosting a site for a deep underground facility where the UK’s radioactive waste can be disposed of.
“The salary of the independent Chair of the Theddlethorpe GDF Working Group is entirely consistent with market rates for individuals of high calibre and wide-ranging experience and reflects the scale of the nationally important project he is now helping to lead. The local community will ultimately decide whether or not a GDF will come to their community.
“The role is to is to ensure that Working Group activities are fair, unbiased and reflect the needs of the community. They will also ensure that the meetings and discussions are run appropriately.”
When he was selected, Mr Collins said: “It’s an emotive and complex topic and I’m committed to making sure people have access to information and that their voices are heard.
“I’m not here to say that a GDF is the right or wrong thing for this area, I’m here to ensure that people around Theddlethorpe not only have access to information but can raise their issues and concerns.”