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18 October 2012 | Adam Leach
A three-year tender process to buy waste management services for eight Northern Ireland councils has been cancelled over fears it would not stand up to a legal challenge.
Expressions of interest for the procurement process, which was to purchase the services required to divert biodegradable waste away from landfill, were invited in June 2009. But in June this year, a legal challenge was lodged against the process. The action was taken by a party that had previously bid for the project, and objected to the move by a bidder to bring in two extra parties to its consortium from outside the tender process.
The Southern Waste Management Partnership, which acted on behalf of the councils, has now abandoned the process. Yesterday, it announced “engaging in an expensive, lengthy and ultimately uncertain legal process” was not in the best interests of its members, and it had therefore decided to cancel the procurement.
In light of the failure, the Department of Environment will now look at two other processes currently under way to procure the services for a further 18 councils. Speaking after the announcement, Northern Ireland environment minister Alex Attwood, said: “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.”
With three years spent on a process that has produced no end result, SWMP said “its attention will now turn to addressing shorter-term waste needs in the region”. The councils represented by the group are Armagh, Banbridge, Cookstown, Craigavon, Dungannon & South Tyrone, Fermanagh, Newry & Mourne, and Omagh.