Industrial gas production firm Air Products has temporarily suspended construction of its second energy-from-waste (EfW) plant in Tees Valley.
The company said it had to halt the building of TV2 due to construction of an identical adjacent facility, TV1, taking longer than expected.
It said the length of the suspension was “yet to be determined”, and it would now work with contactors on TV2 to “wind down construction activity in a controlled way”.
Construction of the first site will continue and is scheduled for completion in 2016, with no set date for TV2.
Both facilities have been designed to generate 49.9MW of renewable electricity a year, using 350,000 tonnes of non-recyclable residual waste.
An Air Products spokesperson said: “As with many innovative projects, we have identified and are now implementing some process and plant improvements on our TV1 plant and continue to make progress.
“As a result, start-up is taking a little longer than expected but we continue to make progress through commissioning and start-up.
“So we are taking a prudent approach by suspending at this point, so that we can fully leverage the learnings from TV1 and apply them in the most economical manner when we resume TV2 activity.
“This eliminates the level rework that is required when building both projects in parallel.”
Trade union GMB said the 700 workers who have been laid off as a result were not consulted.
GMB regional officer for construction Michael Blench told Construction News: “This is a complete and absolute shock to all of us up here – there was no prior warning at all.
“This is yet another crushing blow for the workers on Teesside. Seven weeks away from Christmas, 700 workers are told they are no longer required.”
Former cabinet secretary Francis Maude agreed a deal for the Government to buy the energy from the output of TV2 in 2013. The energy of TV1 will go to food giant MacDonald’s.
Impetus Waste Management will be delivering the residual waste to both sites, which are located on an industrial site next to the North Tees Chemical Complex near Billingham.