A massive residual waste plant procurement has collapsed in Northern Ireland.
The North West Region Waste Management Group (NWRWMG) had named a Shanks-led consortium as preferred bidder for a £560m residual waste project, which included a mechanical biological treatment (MBT) facility and a gasification plant.
But the group has now told its seven member local authorities they should end the procurement process over fears of extra costs.
A group spokesman said: “The recommendation was made due to the degree of uncertainty surrounding the project and question marks over the potential for successful delivery of the project in accordance with the appointment business case and the original final tender submission.
“It was concluded that continuing with this uncertainty placed councils in a position where it would be difficult to plan adequately to ensure that future waste management obligations were met under the EU Waste Framework Directive.
“In addition, continuing with the project would involve considerable additional cost to the public purse with no guarantee of a successful outcome.”
The group will work with the councils to develop alternatives for handling residual waste.
It had named the consortium as preferred bidder in December 2012. Waste firm Brickkiln and construction company Sisk were its other members.
The project would have handled up to 140,000 tonnes of residual waste per year via an MBT facility at Brickkiln’s Enviropark site in Maydown and have produced solid recovered fuel for a gasification facility.
Local environmental groups had opposed the gasification plant, arguing at one point that a planning error meant it should not proceed.
A Shanks spokesman said: “Shanks notes the recommendation of the NWRWMG Joint Committee and understands this in light of the changed market conditions and circumstances.”
NWRWMG members are Ballymoney, Coleraine, Derry, Limavady, Magherafelt, Moyle and Strabane councils.
Northern Ireland’s 26 councils at present have very limited powers largely limited to environmental and consumer protection issues.
Elections to 11 new councils take place in May. These will have powers similar to those of English districts and will replace the existing 26 next year.