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Council challenged over Renewi PFI severance costs

The BBC has appealed to the Information Commissioner to overrule Dumfries & Galloway Council’s refusal to explain why it paid £6.5m to end a private finance initiative (PFI) waste deal.

The council refused a BBC Freedom of Information (FoI) request in December and has now reviewed the decision and reiterated its refusal to answer.

The BBC wanted to know why the council faced this cost when it was Renewi that had wanted to end the contract.

BBC reporter Giancarlo Rinaldi told MRW: “An appeal has been lodged with the Information Commissioner.”

In response to an FoI enquiry, the council said: “In this case, having taken account of whether disclosure would enhance the scrutiny of council decision-making processes and thereby improve accountability and participation, it is concluded that the public interest in disclosing the information does not outweigh the public interest in withholding it. Consequently the public interest lies in maintaining the exemption [from publication].”

Renewi ended the Dumfries & Galloway contract in September, 11 years ahead of schedule, a step it said would “deliver shareholder value”.

It had earlier said it wanted to exit the PFI contract, which it described as “unable to address the needs of Waste (Scotland) Regulations that set demanding new requirements regarding landfill diversion and recycling from 2021”.

Dumfries & Galloway had signed the 25-year deal in 2004 with Shanks, which became Renewi in 2017 following a merger with Van Gansewinkel Groep.

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