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Saturday 6 November 2010

Cheshire Councils in talks to find solution to waste disposal problem


Two Cheshire Councils are talking to Viridor in an attempt to find a solution to the problem of future household waste disposal in the county.

The Waste Management giant had been selected by both Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East Councils as their provisional preferred bidder to handle the £850m, 25-year contract.

But just as the two authorities were about to finalise a lengthy procurement process, Defra announced that it had decided to withdraw its provisional allocation of over £100m worth of support for the scheme.

Cheshire East Councillor Peter Mason, Cabinet Member with responsibility for procurement, assets and shared services, added:  “This set back is very disappointing, especially as we have just chosen our preferred bidder for this contract.

“The project would have solved the problem of the disposal of Cheshire’s household waste through this 25 year contract in an environmentally friendly way – avoiding the need for landfill.”

Cheshire West and Chester Councillor Lynn Riley, Community and Environment Executive Member: “This legacy project took five years and around £4m of public money to reach this stage. In the light of the current situation, we need to examine all the options open to us.

“It is only commonsense that we should talk to the company that had been chosen after such a careful selection process, to see whether there is the facility within the current procurement to help overcome the funding shortfall.”

In the meantime officers representing both authorities have met with Defra officials in London to discuss The Government’s reasons for selecting The Cheshire scheme as one of seven to have financial support withdrawn.

Councillor Riley added:  “I understand that the methodology employed by Government to arrive at that decision will not be published for two or three weeks.

“Our project team will review the information from the meeting with Defra and we will consider a report from officers before making recommendations on any further possible action.

“We cannot at this stage rule out a formal challenge against the decision to withdraw

support for this crucial important scheme.”

Councillor Riley continued:  “At this stage only one thing appears to be certain and that is that PFI credits are a thing of the past. Those schemes that have been successful will be supported by a system of grants.” 

Viridor had proposed a mechanical and biological treatment plant at the former INEOS chemical works at Griffiths Road, Northwich, which would recover the limited recyclable materials from household waste and use the remainder to produce a solid recoverable fuel.

This fuel could then be transported by rail from the MTB facility to a purpose built power station to be constructed at Runcorn which in turn will generate energy for use in the INEOS works.

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