Veolia withdraws from NLWA contract

Waste management company Veolia has withdrawn from the North London Waste Authority’s (NLWA’s) waste services and fuel use contracts.

The NLWA has announced that it has received notification from Veolia Environmental Services that it will not be submitting final tenders for either contract. Veolia has said that the decision has ‘no bearing on the quality and integrity of the projects’ and has offered no reason for the withdrawal.

Local campaign, No2 Veolia Action Group (No2VAG), has claimed Veolia’s withdrawal is a victory for its cause, however. No2VAG has been campaigning for the past two years for Veolia to be removed from the list of bidders ‘due to its grave misconduct in providing infrastructure to illegal Israeli settlements’.

Yael Kahn, chair of No2VAG, said: “Our strategy to force councillors to seriously consider and publicly debate the issues at stake and the further actions planned No2VAG played a critical role in achieving our aim of eliminating Veolia from the NLWA procurement process.”

Contract specifications

The contracts, thought to be worth approximately £4.7 billion, would cover waste and fuel from residual waste contracts for the seven NLWA boroughs: Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest when LondonWaste Ltd’s waste contract ends in December 2014.

The new 25- to 35-year waste contract would run from 2015 and see the final bidder manage the disposal of approximately 846,000 tonnes of municipal waste per year (rising to over one million tonnes due to housing growth). The fuel contract would see any residual waste turned into solid recovered fuel (SRF).

End of competitive bids

Veolia’s withdrawal from the process means that the NLWA will no longer have a competitive process and will have to finalise dialogue with the remaining bidders, FCC/Skanska for the waste services contract and E.ON/Wheelabrator Technologies for the fuel contract.

NLWA is reportedly following published government guidance on managing a premature ending of a competitive process to consider the ‘strength and quality of the remaining bid for each contract, the extent to which the competition up to that stage has been effective, and whether value for money can be demonstrated with only one bidder for each contract’. 

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair of North London Waste Authority, said: “Although it is disappointing that we will not receive competitive bids, we will now work with remaining bidders and undertake work ourselves to ensure that we are still able to deliver long term, sustainable services that are the best possible in both quality and cost terms, and that value for money is delivered for tax payers.”

New mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) facilities had originally been proposed for NLWA’s Pinkham Way and Edmonton sites, but following Veolia’s withdrawal, the NLWA has announced that it will be withdrawing its outstanding outline planning application for an MBT plant at the Pinkham Way site.

“I hope… the announcement on the future use of the Pinkham Way site will provide some further clarity and certainty for local people. They now know that subject to a successful planning application at the existing Edmonton site, there should be no residual waste treatment at Pinkham Way”, Councillor Loakes added.

The NLWA waste strategy hopes to see 50 per cent of North London's waste recycled to ‘avoid the effects of the increasing landfill tax’.

Read more about the NLWA procurement projects.