24 January 2014

Government settles with Bradford over PFI loss

By Michael Holder

Bradford and Calderdale councils have reached an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed figure in their dispute with the government over its decision to withdraw 62.1 million funding from the now-cancelled incinerator project at Bowling Back Lane.

An artist's impression of the now-cancelled Bowling Back Lane EfW incinerator

An artist’s impression of the now-cancelled Bowling Back Lane EfW incinerator

The city of Bradford metropolitan district council announced today (January 24) that the two councils would now not continue with their Judicial Review into how the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reached its decision to cancel the waste infrastructure credits in February 2013 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Defra cancelled the PFI funding months before work was set to start on the Bowling Back Lane energy-from-waste (EfW) facility in Bradford as it said there would be sufficient capacity to meet 2020 EU landfill diversion targets without the plant.

Bradford council said this decision was made without any prior warning or consultation and the two councils were then granted permission for a Judicial Review of this decision in August 2013 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Today, however, a Defra spokeswoman said: We are pleased Bradford and Calderdale councils have withdrawn their claim.

The spokeswoman added that both parties have agreed not to disclose the settlement figure.

According to Bradford council, the two councils had made a number of attempts to secure a negotiated settlement to avoid formal action, but that it was only recently that Defra has put forward a substantive proposals in this regard.

‘We had a strong case in seeking the Judicial Review and felt that it was important to expose the full extent of Defra’s secret review of waste management projects. However, the council has to balance the cost of legal action against the potential benefit that might arise and we have therefore agreed to settle the case out of court.’

Bradford councillor Andrew Thornton

Bradford councillor Andrew Thornton, executive member for environment and sport, said: We took legal action because we felt that Defra should be held to account for a decision that has cost our tax payers millions of pounds.

We had a strong case in seeking the Judicial Review and felt that it was important to expose the full extent of Defra’s secret review of waste management projects. However, the council has to balance the cost of legal action against the potential benefit that might arise and we have therefore agreed to settle the case out of court.

Bowling Back Lane

A consortium of FCC Environment and Skanska, known as Pennine Resource Recovery, were preferred bidders for the 25-year contract to construct the Bowling Back Lane incinerator.

However, a decision was taken to terminate the project in December 2013 as it has not proved possible to achieve an acceptable solution without the PFI credits, Bradford council said.

The plant would have processed around 193,000 tonnes per year of household waste and produce enough electricity to power 20,000 homes. In addition, the project was expected to create 80 permanent jobs as well as 300 construction jobs.

Councillor Thornton added: The council will now need to consider how it is going to secure a long-term sustainable solution for the district’s waste as we are determined that any alternative method of managing waste we choose to adopt will be as cost-effective and environmentally-friendly as possible.

Calderdale councillor Barry Collins, cabinet member for economy and environment said: Withdrawal of government support has terminated a project that promised reliable recycling of waste, green energy generation and local employment. As a council we will now review our alternative options for the future.

The settlement comes a week after North Yorkshire and city of York councils decided to withdraw their application for a Judicial Review of Defras cancellation of 65 million PFI funding towards the Allerton Park EfW incinerator (see letsrecycle.com story).


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