3 August 2020 by Steve Eminton

Essex CC reveals Tovi Eco Park ‘in administration’

Residual waste which had been going to the Tovi Eco Park facility in Basildon, Essex, is now to go to landfill, Essex county council has confirmed.

And the authority has revealed that the operator of Tovi Eco Park – UBB Waste (Essex) Ltd – has gone into administration. The company entered into a PFI contract with Essex county council to design, build and operate a waste facility in Basildon over a 28 year period in 2012. It would handle 417,000 tonnes a year.

UBB is short for Urbaser Balfour Beatty; Urbaser is a global environmental services business based in Madrid, Spain, with a UK office in Cheltenham, while Balfour Beatty is a global civil engineering and investment business headquartered in the UK. Balfour Beatty today confirmed that the UBB Waste (Essex) Ltd business is in administration.

An impression of the plant with pictures of the equipment

At the end of June this year deliveries of waste into the plant were suspended by the operator, the county council explained. This followed a High Court judgement which came down in favour of Essex in a long-running dispute between the council and the contractor. Several issues were subject to litigation from both sides, such as the composition of the waste, the operation and performance of the facility and compensation for UBB Waste Essex Ltd for alleged delays (see letsrecycle.com story).

Creditors

Essex county council said today (3 August): “The decision that the operator of the plant, currently in its testing phase, should be placed in administrative receivership was taken by the secured creditors of UBB Waste (Essex) Limited.  The council is seeking to engage with the administrative receivers.”

Just over a year ago in May 2019, UBB Waste (Essex) had reported that the risk of the project being liquidated and assets not being recovered could not be ruled out. In the accounts for 2018 the business said that a “worst case scenario is that the shareholders would not be repaid for loans, providers of the subordinated debt are Urbaser Investment Ltd, 70% at 22.6 million and Balfour Beatty Investment Holding Ltd, 30% at £9.7 million.”

Residents of Essex have been assured by the county council that operations teams at city, district and borough councils which collect the waste from homes have been informed and are working to these “alternative contingency arrangements for waste disposal”. And, any remaining waste in the facility is to be taken to landfill.

(above: an inside view of treatment of the organic fraction at Tovi Eco Park)

Landfill

Essex county council had already secured landfill and other contracts for waste treatment (see letsrecycle.com story ).

Cllr Simon Walsh, Essex county council’s cabinet member for environment and climate change action, said: “We would like to reassure residents that they should see no difference in how their bins are collected as a result of this development. Waste will continue to be collected by their local councils and disposed of by the county council.”

The authority explained that the facility is “wholly owned and operated by UBB Waste (Essex) Limited. Essex County Council only pays for waste processed through the plant and has not spent any money on the construction of the facility or the equipment contained within. The safety and security of the site is the responsibility of the facility’s operator.”

A feature of the plant was equipment included three fully automated trapezoidal windrow composting lines from Taim Weser for pre-treated municipal solid waste by stack turning machines (ROTOPALA), with a process capacity of 375,000 tonnes a year. The equipment at work can be seen in the YouTube video above. More information at Taim Weser.

Urbaser has been approached for a comment on the administration position.

[Updated 15.00 3 August 2020]

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