Veolia recommended as Preferred Bidder for 550m Leeds waste PFI


It was announced today (October 11th) that Veolia ES Aurora Ltd is the company councillors will be recommended to choose as the preferred bidder for the Leeds residual waste project.

Two companies had been competing to build and run a high-tech, environmentally-friendly waste treatment facility for the city of Leeds.  It will have the capacity to recycle more of the city’s rubbish and burn the rest so none of it goes to landfill.


After an extensive detailed assessment by Leeds City Council officers of the final two bids, Veolia came out top ahead of rival bidder Aire Valley Environmental.


If their assessment gains government approval later this month, officers will recommend to the council’s executive board that Veolia be selected as the preferred bidder to deliver the private finance initiative (PFI) funded project.  They want to build a combined treatment plant to both recycle and recover energy from waste at the former wholesale markets site at Pontefract Lane, Cross Green.


Benefits of the proposed scheme include:


  • A saving of £200 million over 25 years for Leeds compared to the costs associated with existing waste processing systems;
  • A reduction in CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions via diverting waste from landfill equivalent to keeping 29,000 cars off the road per year in Leeds;
  • The production of enough power to heat 20,000 houses.


The buildings would be adjacent to the council’s environmental services Knowsthorpe Gate headquarters and space to the rear could potentially be used for a business park, separating the facility from nearby housing estates.


Veolia’s proposed main building is an eye-catching greenhouse-style glass-sided wood-framed structure covered with a “living green wall” of plants and featuring a glass walkway that will offer panoramic views of Leeds city centre.  There will also be a visitor centre.


The building will be 42 metres in height, 125 metres long and 35 metres wide, with a chimney reaching around 80 metres from ground level.  The height of this will be determined by the Environment Agency.


Its adjacent waste reception and mechanical pre-treatment building will receive all black bin waste collected from households around the city and sort it to ensure that as much as it is possible to recycle is removed.  Ash residue will be sent for use in construction.


Only waste that would previously have been consigned to landfill and not suitable for recycling will then be burned in the *Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF).  This process will in itself generate enough energy to power around 20,000 homes.


Heat is produced during the energy generation and Veolia will work with the council to investigate how this heat could be used in new homes built as part of the proposed eco settlement in the Aire Valley, nearby industrial buildings, or by future users of the adjacent development site.


Processing waste in this way would save the city £200 million over 25 years by avoiding hefty landfill taxes and would help the council meet its target of recycling half of all Leeds’ rubbish by the year 2020.


Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental services, Leeds City Council, said:

“Continuing to send rubbish to rot in the ground is not an option.  It’s not good for the climate and it costs the city millions in landfill taxes which are rising each year. We want people to recycle as much as possible and add to the record 40% mark the council hit this year, but we need a modern and safe solution to the old problem of what to do with what’s left over for Leeds to be a cleaner, greener place.


“Both companies put forward excellent bids to deliver a sustainable solution to the problem of how to dispose of the city’s waste and at the end of a vigorous assessment Veolia’s scheme was judged to be the best.”


If the council’s executive board agrees at its meeting in November that Veolia proceed with its bid, the company would need to do a full public consultation and submit detailed planning applications.


It will also have to apply to the Environment Agency for an environmental permit, which is granted only if the scheme meets strict conditions ensuring it does not cause significant pollution and has no detrimental affect on people’s health.


Should they succeed in this process the treatment plant would be expected to be operational around spring 2016.


(Source: LCC press release)