In what is being viewed as a landmark case, Arc 21 a local government body representing 11 councils has been told to reconsider its decision to grant business worth £74.5m to Terra Eco, a subsidiary of Thames Water Group. The deal is understood to be Northern Irelands largest ever waste contract.
The decision follows a court action brought by County Armagh based Natural World Products (NWP) which narrowly lost out to Terra Eco during a tender process. This involved marks being awarded to gauge each companys ability to handle a contract to recycle organic waste from tens of thousands of domestic brown bin collections. The successfully company would be expected to provide a purpose-built facility in the Belfast area to turn grass clippings and vegetable peelings into compost.
NWP said that the marking process had failed to take into account the capacity of the companys facility in Keady, a sentiment shared by Mr Justice Deeny who said that Arc 21 needed to re-evaluate the NWP bid.
Arc 21 must now decide whether or not to appeal against the decision. If it decides not to, extensive negotiations will be required with both NWP and Terra Eco. In either case the implementation of the new waste contract is expected to be delayed by months and could see local councils facing fines for failing to meet EU set recycling targets.
A spokesman for Arc 21 said the organisation was currently considering the detail of the judges decision and was unable to comment further.