12 April 2019 by Elizabeth Slow

Banks asked to intervene over Sinfin EfW plant

Derbyshire and Derby councils have called for financial backers of the Sinfin waste treatment centre to intervene to ‘secure the future’ of the delayed facility.

The plant, which was due to open in 2017, is being built on the councils’ behalf by Resource Recovery Solutions (Derbyshire) Ltd (RRS) – a partnership between national construction firm, Interserve, and waste management company Renewi.

An artist’s impression of the Sinfin facility, which was due to open in 2017

Financial difficulties at Interserve saw the company bought out of administration by lenders in a pre-pack deal in March, and are believed to have contributed to the delays in the delivery of the plant.

Despite being more than two years behind schedule, the councils claim that RRS “has still not been able to resolve ongoing issues at the plant to allow it to pass the certified performance tests needed to bring it into full service”.

Both councils have reaffirmed their commitment to completing the facility, and said that the banks funding the project can resolve these issues under contract.

Funding for the facility is being provided by the UK Green Infrastructure Platform and three international banks: Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Shinsei Bank from Japan and Bayerische Landesbank from Germany.

If the banks decide against taking action then the councils have warned that they will bring their long-term waste management contract with RRS to an end and put measures in place to fix problems at the site so that the facility can be made fully operational.

‘Enormous concern’

Councillor Simon Spencer, deputy leader of Derbyshire county council said: “We’ve given RRS every opportunity to get the waste treatment centre up-and-running. But we can’t wait indefinitely and the fact that the plant has still not passed certified performance tests is clearly of enormous concern to us.

“The contract gives specific rights to the funders to step into the project. So far they have not exercised their rights, but the time has come to formally give notice to them that they should step in. We don’t want to end our contract with RRS but if the funders cannot find a robust way to push the project forward then we will be left with little choice.”

Don McLure, strategic director of corporate resources at Derby city council, said: “We’ve been pushing RRS to resolve outstanding issues at the plant and pass certified performance tests but unfortunately the delays continue.

“We need a facility to give us certainty about the future cost of dealing with Derby and Derbyshire’s waste and this is the best option to get the plant fully operational as soon as possible.”

Both councils have said they are confident that the waste treatment facility “still offers the best value for money” compared to sending waste to landfill sites or other waste treatment facilities in the UK and western Europe.

When contacted by letsrecycle.com, a spokesperson for Renewi, said: “Our PPP contract with the Councils of Derby City and Derbyshire is a joint venture contract between Renewi and Interserve. Interserve is the prime contractor for the construction and commissioning of the advanced gasification facility which is significantly behind plan. Renewi is expected to become the operator once the facility is fully commissioned.

“We continue to work with all parties towards getting the facility to pass the certified performance tests needed to bring it into full service.”


Spokesperson
Renewi

“We are pleased that the councils do not want to end the contract with RRS and we support their action to push this project forward. We continue to work with all parties towards getting the facility to pass the certified performance tests needed to bring it into full service.”

Gasification

The waste treatment facility includes mechanical biological treatment, a recycling plant and an energy from waste process using gasification. Testing at the facility began in July 2017 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Once complete, it is expected to divert 190,000 tonnes of waste per year away from landfill by treating waste to produce a gas which is then burned to create electricity.

RRS also manages nine of the councils’ household waste recycling centres and two waste transfer stations.

Councillor Spencer added: “If the project’s funders do not take action and our contract with RRS has to come to an end, contingency plans will be put in place to make sure our recycling centres continue to operate and we have access to disposal facilities for waste which households in Derby and Derbyshire do not recycle.”

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