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Viridor named as ‘Preferred Bidder’ for contract that will signal the end for landfill

December 16, 2011

Viridor has been chosen as the ‘Preferred Bidder’ by the South London Waste Partnership for its 25-year residual waste treatment contract.

Once signed, the contract will ensure that from April 2014, up to 215,000 tonnes of ‘residual waste’ (rubbish that has not been sorted by residents for composting or recycling) that is generated every year by households in Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton will no longer be buried in expensive and environmentally unsustainable landfill sites.

Instead, if planning permission is achieved, the waste will be treated in a state-of-the-art Energy Recovery Facility which will use tried and tested methods to extract valuable electricity and, if viable, heat from it.

To achieve all of this, Viridor is proposing to build an Energy Recovery Facility on a plot of land just off Beddington Lane in the London Borough of Sutton. The new facility would be located right next to an existing 92-hectare landfill site, which it will replace. This landfill site is also operated by Viridor and is currently where the Partnership sends most of the residual waste collected from households in Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton.

Viridor’s proposal will be subject to a very detailed and public planning application process, which will include a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment considering issues around land use, design, traffic, air quality and sustainability. Residents in all four council areas will be able to contribute to the planning process in Sutton, which will give equal measure to the views of people in each borough.

The Beddington Lane landfill site, which receives up to 400,000 tonnes of waste every year, is expected to be full within the next 10 years. Once full, the plan is to restore the land to become part of a regional park. The new Energy Recovery Facility would make it possible to accelerate this work, which is already underway, and bring the restoration of the land forward.

Other benefits for the local Beddington community would include local investment, job creation (approximately 40 full time staff would be required to operate the new facility) and, subject to discussions with the planning authority, other local amenity improvements.

At the start of the procurement process back in May 2008, the Partnership made a pledge to residents that the new contract would put in place arrangements that were more environmentally friendly and cost-effective than landfill. That pledge has been kept:

• Treating residual waste in a modern Energy Recovery Facility is far more environmentally friendly than burying it in landfill sites: The contract with Viridor will see a significant reduction in CO2 emissions over landfill.

• The new residual waste treatment contract will be cheaper than landfill from day one. Over the 25-year lifetime of the contract it will save the four partner boroughs around £200 million by ensuring that strict Government-controlled limits on landfill waste are met, avoiding severe financial penalties in the process.

The proposed Energy Recovery Facility would be safe, robust and highly effective in treating the residual waste delivered to the site. It would be built by a highly experienced, Viridor-led consortium, which has already built many high quality plants across Europe and in the UK. Once built, the facility would be operated by Viridor; a respected company with decades of relevant experience, using tried and tested technologies. As with all facilities of this type, it would be closely monitored by the Environment Agency to ensure that it meets the incredibly strict emissions criteria set out in the European Union’s Waste Incineration Directive.

Councillor Phil Thomas, Chair of the South London Waste Partnership Joint Waste Committee, said: “Awarding Preferred Bidder status was a huge decision, but the Joint Waste Committee is confident that the right decision has been made: Viridor had the strongest bid when assessed against the evaluation criteria. It is now for the planning process to forensically study whether the proposal is appropriate for the Beddington area.

“The Energy Recovery Facility proposed by Viridor is an intelligent solution to a huge environmental and financial challenge. Of course it is important that we all continue to minimise the amount of waste we produce and then recycle and compost as much as we can. But a modern Energy Recovery Facility has an important role to play in ensuring that we can prevent even non-recyclable waste from ending up in landfill sites, costing both the environment and council tax payers dearly.”

Councillor Thomas continues: “I know that residents who live in the vicinity of the Beddington Lane site will have lots of questions around issues like traffic and emissions. We are committed to systematically working through these and a lot of effort will go into making sure everyone has the chance to have their say on these issues.”

As Preferred Bidder, Viridor will now enter into the final stage of the Procurement Process, ‘Financial Close’, where detailed information relating to the contract will be finalised and agreed with the Partnership. The contract should be awarded by August 2012.

WRG is the Partnership’s ‘Reserved Bidder’.