In April this year, a consortium comprising of SITA, Sembcorp and I-Environment was awarded a £1.2bn contract to process Merseyside’s waste.
The deal with the Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA) involves ferrying 430,000 tonnes of household waste to Teesside and will lead to a £200m investment in a new EfW plant, to be known as Wilton 11, on Teesside.
However, the MRWA came under fire from Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, who said: “Merseyside has had a massive opportunity for major infrastructure investment snatched from its grasp and hundreds of potential jobs which we desperately need have gone to the North East.”
Mayor Anderson concedes there is local public opposition to the idea of the waste treatment centre being located on Merseyside.
Last month, the losing bidder, Covanta Energy, who had earmarked a site near Ellesmere Port, asked the High Court to overturn the 30-year contract, saying certain aspects of the tender process were “fundamentally unacceptable”.
Covanta is asking for MWDA to be required not to enter into a contract with SITA without further opportunity for tenders to be submitted.
Carl Beer, chief executive of Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority, said: “Following a detailed and fair evaluation process, Sita was selected as the preferred bidder.
“Covanta’s bid scored less than SITA UK’s winning bid, and in two of five areas of evaluation scored zero and so was found to be fundamentally unacceptable. The Covanta bid was rejected having failed to reach minimum scores in those areas.
“In addition, during evaluation, parts of the Covanta bid were seen to present serious risks including financial risks, to which the authority, district council and Merseyside council taxpayers would be exposed.
“The authority regrets that Covanta has decided to pursue litigation following that decision. MWDA will be vigorously defending the claim brought against it.”
Ben Messenger, managing editor of industry publication waste Management World, said: “The Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority contract is proposing to transport an unusually large amount of residual waste quite a long way, but SITA argue that the carbon cost of doing that is mitigated by the use of rail.
“There’s a lot of speculation about the exact reasons they picked a facility in Teesside and not the one in Merseyside, but personally I think they were quite pleased not to have the public relations battle of building a waste to energy plant on their own doorstep.
“Generally, they are quite controversial projects, with a lot of misinformation thrown about by campaigners. It’s easy to see why most people wouldn’t want one in their back garden so-to-speak, but they do have to go somewhere.”