Published Monday, 15 October 2012
The cost to the taxpayer is £3.1m. (© Getty)
The Southern Waste Management Partnership (SWaMP2008) - a joint committee of eight local councils in the south and west of the region - announced on Monday that it is to terminate its procurement of a long-term residual waste treatment contract.
Quinn Group emerged last year as the favoured contractor however the tender process, which started in 2009, had to be abandoned amid a threat of legal action - and will not be rerun.
A spokesperson for SWaMP2008 said it "had reached its decision with great regret, however the project has recently been the subject of a legal challenge, as a result of circumstances that are outside of the control of SWaMP2008".
The contract was intended to provide waste management services in NI, reduce the use of landfill for domestic waste and support increased recycling.
The £3.1m was paid by the Department of the Environment to run the initiative.
In June this year, SWaMP2008 - which involves Armagh, Banbridge, Cookstown, Craigavon, Dungannon, Fermanagh, Newry and Mourne, and Omagh councils - received a formal challenge to the legality of its revised bidder following the introduction of two new partners to the consortium by the original bidder.
The grouping concluded that it could not risk incurring the significant costs that would be involved in contesting the challenge with no certainty of success.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: "There is a need for certainty and avoidance of doubt.
"In the coming weeks, my focus will be to subject the remaining two procurement exercises being undertaken by councils to robust and ongoing scrutiny to ensure that waste procurement is modelled to serve the needs of the councils in the north, to do so in a way that is fully compliant with European legislation, is affordable, is deliverable and is the necessary and best option for our waste requirements."
The statement from SWaMP2008 continued: "As a publicly-funded organisation SWaMP2008 has reluctantly concluded that its interests, and those of its stakeholders, are not best served by engaging in an expensive, lengthy and ultimately uncertain legal process, and consequently the procurement process is to be terminated.
"SWaMP2008 remains resolute in its commitment to managing the waste of its constituent councils. While it is not in a position to complete the successful procurement of the residual waste treatment project, its attention will now turn to addressing shorter-term waste needs in the region."