BRITAIN'S LARGEST ever waste contract worth £3bn, reached preferred bidder stage last week with Viridor and John Laing beating the Sita/Royal Bank of Scotland/Peel Holdings consortium.
The 25-year PFI places mechanical biological treatment (MBT) at its heart as the Viridor/ John Laing team plan to build between two and four MBT plants, and a combined heat and power plant in the Greater Manchester area by 2010.
The consortium provided a cheaper bid than its rival to client the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA).
Authority chairman Neil Swannick said: 'Several MBT plants using anaerobic digestion will be built. We want to make sure when we get to 2010 that we have got those facilities up and running because that is when the LATS targets become really challenging.' The Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) is a mechanism introduced by the government that enables local authorities to trade the tonnages of waste they can dump in order to meet their landfill diversion targets.
GMWDA is the largest waste disposal authority in England handling 1.4M tonnes of municipal waste per year, but last year the authority had the second highest landfill allowance surplus.
MBT automatically sorts materials for recycling and then biologically treats the residual waste to produce a refuse derived fuel (RDF) that can be burnt to generate electricity.
GMWDA has lined up 15 firms, including E.ON and Scottish & Southern Energy, to buy the RDF it will generate and has four exiting waste sites on which the MBT plants could be built.
l Norfolk County Council last week dumped the preferred bidder for its waste PFI contract following local protest over plans to build an incinerator. Waste Recycling Group's plans for an energy from waste plant were dropped in favour of Sustainable Resource Management's proposal based on MBT technology.