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Sita seeks redress over Manchester Waste

Waste firm Sita has begun legal action against the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) after losing out on the £3.8bn Greater Manchester Waste PFI, claiming the GMWDA procurement process was flawed.

Sita’s writ at the High Court claims unlimited damages from the GMWDA. It is demanding damages for the authority’s “failure to award the contract to the claimant”, alleging a breach of European Union procurement regulations over transparency and equal treatment.

A Sita spokesman said: “According to the information released by the GMWDA when the PFI contract reached financial close on 8 April 2009, the cost of the PFI contract let to Viridor Laing was 15% more expensive than Sita UK’s bid in 2007 and 25% more expensive than their original submission.

“It has also transpired that since the appointment of preferred bidder, GMWDA agreed significant changes to the project. In our view Sita UK, as reserve bidder, should have been invited to submit a revised bid, which could have been fully assessed against the VL bid.

“We have sought reassurance from GMWDA that our bid was treated fairly. However, the responses to requests for information have simply reinforced our concerns. Regrettably Sita UK has been left with no option than to issue court proceedings.”

The 25-year PFI Greater Manchester waste contract reached financial closure in April 2009 with commercial lenders: the European Investment Bank, GMWDA and the Treasury Infrastructure Finance Unit supplying a debt facility totalling £582M.

GMWDA treasurer John Bland told NCE: “The authority is disappointed and surprised that Sita UK has commenced legal proceedings, but is confident the contract has been awarded in accordance with EU laws.”

The project involves the delivery of 36 plants on 23 sites across Greater Manchester, capable of handling 1.3M tonnes of waste per annum. Technologies include: six transfer loading stations; two green waste shredding facilities; four in-vessel composting facilities; one materials recycling facility; 17 household waste recycling centres; five mechanical biological treatment with anaerobic digestion facilities; and one thermal power station.

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