Local authorities ‘abused position’ on waste collection

DUBLIN’S four localauthorities abused theirpositions of dominance by changing the rules on waste collection to exclude private operators, the High Court ruled yesterday.

The ruling could have an impact on the future viability of the Poolbeg incineration facility.

In March 2008, the councils introduced changes to the waste collection system which meant only one operator, contracted by the local Dublin authority, could collect rubbish in a defined area. However, yesterday Mr Justice William M McKechnie quashed that change. He said the variation would have the effect of excluding private operators from the domestic waste collection market as all rights to collect waste would be held by a single operator, either the Dublin local authority or, following a public tender process, their nominee.

He said the variation was “vitiated by bias and prejudgment” and was “ultra vires”. In a 125-page judgment he deferred the matter of damages to a later date.

Nurendale, trading as Panda Waste Service, said the councils were seeking to “effectively remove competition”. Martin Hayden SC, for Panda, claimed there had been a “war of attrition” by the assistant city manager Matt Twomey who counsel said had indicated he wanted to take back control of the waste collection service.

The private operators have claimed the reason for that is that a waste incinerator is to be built for Dublin at Poolbeg and the councils want to ensure the required 320,000 tonnes of waste per year which they have guaranteed as part of their contract with the incinerator operators will be sent to the facility. Another operator Greenstar, which has taken a separate but linked case, has its own mechanism for dealing with the waste and would not necessarily need to use Poolbeg.

Mr Justice McKechnie said the planned Poolbeg incinerator was “not free from uncertainty”.


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