The decision by Air Products to abandon its Teesside gasification projects as part of an overall withdrawal from the global energy-from-waste (EfW) sector was being assessed. The huge parent company put the cost of its decision at around £700m.
TV2 had already been mothballed the previous November but TV1 was axed because of “design operational challenges”. It provoked a debate on the viability of schemes of this size, especially as it involved relatively recent technology.
The challenges of the local authority market were underlined by Shanks writing off £5m because of problems with its Cumbria County Council contract, which included mechanical biological treatment plants. At this time, a report on north-west English councils found that saving money in the waste services was a bigger priority for them than driving up recycling rates.
There was gloom on Merseyside when the specialist organic waste business H2 Energy Group went into administration, reportedly because of cash flow problems.
Grundon provided brighter news with a partnership with a Lebanese-based construction group to help develop waste management facilities in the Middle East and Africa, with the UK being seen as having considerable experience. And Veolia’s £140m EfW facility in Leeds was handed over to the city council three months ahead of schedule.
It was a painful period for Powerday, with the regional construction waste specialist being hit with fines of around £1m after a long-running case involving hazardous waste. With costs of nearly £250,000, it was the biggest financial penalty imposed for waste offences.
Smaller recyclers set themselves up as members of the National Resource Consortium with the aim of challenging “a national monopoly” by the larger operators. Organisers said the power of the big brands was such that it made it hard for local operators to compete for corporate waste accounts generating 30% of the materials collected in the UK.
Whitehall reorganisation affected the industry, with those responsible for environmental regulations in the business department transferring to Defra. This covered areas such as waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE), batteries and end-of-life vehicles.
But bigger departmental changes were to come when Theresa May replaced David Cameron as prime minister in the summer.