County council monitoring Biffa developments

JPCT 040512 Mechanical Biological Treatment facility which is currently under construction at Biffa Brookhurst Wood site near Horsham. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 040512 Mechanical Biological Treatment facility which is currently under construction at Biffa Brookhurst Wood site near Horsham. Photo by Derek Martin

Amid reports that banks are preparing to seize waste-disposal company Biffa, the county council says it is monitoring the situation because of a £1.2bn contract between the two.

Biffa West Sussex is two years into a 25-year contract to run a waste management facility for West Sussex County Council at Brookhurst Wood near Warnham. Speaking in June, deputy leader of WSCC Lionel Barnard (Con, Henfield) said it represented a significant investment and a flagship scheme for the county council.

JPCT 040512 Mechanical Biological Treatment facility which is currently under construction at Biffa Brookhurst Wood site near Horsham. Photo by Derek Martin

JPCT 040512 Mechanical Biological Treatment facility which is currently under construction at Biffa Brookhurst Wood site near Horsham. Photo by Derek Martin

The mechanical biological treatment centre will convert organic waste, such as garden refuse or foodstuffs, into a reusable compost-like substance which can be burnt for energy.

A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council said: “The county council has been following the developments concerning Biffa and is ensuring that it has fully up to date information and advice including any impact on commitments under its contract. Options to meet a range of possible eventualities will be considered to protect important services.”

However a spokesperson for Biffa West Sussex said: “Biffa has not been taken over by its creditors.

“This is a perfectly normal financial restructuring, with no impact on its business operations whatsoever.

“It’s business as usual for Biffa.”

Biffa was chosen by the county council in September 2008 as the preferred bidder, with preliminary work starting in 2010. They are due to finish work this winter, and open properly in the summer of 2013.

Mr Barnard told the County Times in June that: “The partnership with Biffa sets us apart from other counties in terms of the technology chosen to handle our waste as well as the length of the contract term.”

He added: “We chose this solution because we feel it meets our needs to manage household waste sustainably at one site by producing fuel that can be used to generate electricity. It was also the most financially attractive option for our community.

“By the time the plant is up-and-running in 2013, it will be handling over 200,000 tonnes of waste per year and the council is already procuring a contract for the disposal of the fuel produced which, when in place, is likely to result in the diversion of at least 75,000 tonnes of waste from landfill per year.

“This will be better for the environment and better for us.”