Tovi Eco Park waste facility to be demolished
The waste treatment contract for the mechanical and biological waste treatment facility (MBT), otherwise known as the Tovi Eco Park, in Basildon, Essex is to be terminated as part of a mutual agreement between Essex County Council (ECC) and UBB Waste (Essex) Limited (UBB) signed earlier today.
The parties have agreed to amend the PFI contract relating to the MBT facility to include an obligation on UBB to demolish the MBT facility, hand back the Environmental Permit to the Environment Agency and return the empty site to ECC, following which the PFI contract will be terminated.
Signed in 2012, the contract was to design, build and operate a mechanical and biological waste treatment facility to process all black bag waste in Essex.
Essex County Council (ECC) had for some time been in ongoing discussions with the owner and operator of the facility in Basildon, UBB Waste (Essex) Limited (UBB), about a number of significant performance issues at the MBT facility.
Both parties were using the process set out in the contract to attempt to resolve these issues. Where matters were not resolved, these were referred to the court to decide. Following a trial in 2019, judgment was handed down in June 2020 in favour of ECC.
Following the judgment, and subsequent launch in July 2021 of further proceedings in relation to the contract, ECC and UBB have been in ongoing settlement discussions and have now decided to terminate the contract.
An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “Due to ongoing performance issues at the waste treatment facility in Basildon, Essex County Council and the parent companies of the facility’s former owner and operator, Urbaser SA and Balfour Beatty Group Limited, have mutually agreed to terminate the contract, thereby settling the ongoing legal disputes. ECC will work closely with the two companies to ensure a smooth transition to demolition of the facility and the handing back of the Environmental Permit. Residents will see no difference in how their waste is collected. Waste that local householders have sorted for recycling will continue to be separately collected and recycled.
“UBB recognises that the facility did not meet the performance levels set out in the contract and also that the performance issue was not caused by the actions of ECC. Both parties are pleased to have been able to conclude matters on mutually agreed terms.”
Waste will continue to be sent to landfill in the short term as part of contingency arrangements which have been in place throughout the facility’s ongoing commissioning phase.
Deliveries of waste to the facility ceased in June 2020 and the facility was emptied of waste in August 2020. It is expected demolition works will begin this summer, subject to planning requirements. Urbaser Environmental Ltd will then commence the process of handing back its Environmental Permit to the Environment Agency, which will be complete once the Environment Agency is satisfied that the necessary conditions have been met. The site will be made safe and secure for local residents. Once these steps have been completed, the empty site will be handed over to ECC.
In light of these recent developments, ECC will undertake a review of the County’s waste management strategy and shape its plan for how it will move away from landfill with its members and partners before consulting with residents on their views on the future of waste treatment in Essex.