Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Recommended bidder announced for Leeds residual waste scheme

It was announced today 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 hardly any 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 electricity to power 20,000 houses.

The buildings would be adjacent to the council’s environmental services Knowsthorpe Gate headquarters and around three acres of space to the rear could potentially be set aside for other development, 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 65 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 or industrial buildings in the area.

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.

Notes to editors:
Bid assessment: council officers assessed the two bids based on agreed criteria in areas such as environmental impact; benefits to the local community; how proven and flexible the waste treatment technology is; quality of design; operational management systems and the cost of treating the waste.
*Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) this is a facility using a process by which rubbish that is not recycled by residents via green bins or other processes is first sorted to see if anything else can be extracted for recycling. The residues are burned under controlled conditions and the heat resulting from this is used to produce electricity. The energy produced could power around 20,000 homes, supplied via the National Grid, as well as the potential for heat distribution.
For more information on energy from waste plants, visit the Environment Agency website at the following link to download a pdf of their leaflet:http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Business/Final_pdf_of_leaflet_29_June_small.pdf
Traffic: all unloading activity will take place within the enclosed waste reception area of the site, away from public view and avoiding queuing on the highway. Traffic levels are not expected to increase significantly as many waste vehicles already use the same roads to take their loads to the Skelton Grange landfill site and to access the council’s Cross Green depot.
Landfill sites: currently the majority of the waste produced in Leeds that cannot be recycled is sent to landfill, with most of it going to sites at Skelton Grange and Micklefield.

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335
e-mail: donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk


Children’s heart unit must stay in Leeds demands regional health watchdog

A health watchdog representing 15 councils across the Yorkshire and Humber region has called for the children’s heart surgery unit to be retained in Leeds.

The congenital cardiac surgery service is under a national review and under three out of four proposals put forward by the decision-making body, the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT), it could be lost for good in Leeds.

In a report published yesterday by the Yorkshire and Humber Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, it is clearly stated that children and families across Yorkshire and the Humber will be disproportionately disadvantaged if the Leeds unit is not retained in the future.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, chair of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said:
“A powerful message has been sent from this region to the national review team that the loss of the Children’s Heart Surgery unit in Leeds cannot be tolerated by the children and families of our region.

“After nearly seven months analysis and examination of the proposals, our cross-party and cross-regional committee has united around the need to retain this much needed and highly valued facility at the heart of Yorkshire and the Humber.

“Losing this facility in Leeds would have a serious and detrimental impact on ill and vulnerable children and their families right across the region.

“In considering the best interests of children and families across Yorkshire and the Humber, we hope the ten members of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) who will determine the future of children’s heart surgery across the country later this year, will pay heed to our concerns.

“Public feeling in our region is also absolutely clear on this matter; 600,000 people signed a petition supporting the retention of this highly valued and much loved service. We sincerely hope that the JCPCT listens to this public appeal and makes the right decision to retain the service in Leeds.”

Closing the Leeds unit will deliver a significantly worse experience for ill children and their families for the following reasons:

• As a result of significant investment in recent years, the Leeds unit has the full range of interdependent surgical services, maternity and neonatal services co-located on one site. None of the alternative surgical centres available to Yorkshire and the Humber patients and their families can match this. This would result for example in newborn babies requiring surgery being transferred to other hospitals once their mothers have given birth.
• Considerable extra journey times and travel costs for families visiting ill children alongside increased accommodation, additional childcare costs for siblings and living expense costs. It may not be possible for working parents to visit their ill children recovering from surgery after work or for siblings to visit their ill brother or sister after school given the additional journey times and travel costs. This will all significantly add to the stress and strain on families at an already distressing time.
• Loss of the Leeds unit would lead to a fragmentation of the well established, very strong network across the Yorkshire and Humber region, all of which play an important part in providing the ongoing care and family support closer to home for patients.

There is also likely to be a significant impact on the future provision for the growing number of adult congenital heart patients. The national decision makers have chosen to review adult services separately, but if the Leeds unit closes as a result of the children’s review it is likely to predetermine the outcome for adult patients.

The regional watchdog began its detailed investigation in March this year in order to meet the consultation deadline of 5 October. A range of evidence was considered from a variety of sources, including surgeons and cardiologists, parents and grandparents of patients, work done by councillors in their local areas, the local Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and local MPs. Committee members visited the heart surgery unit in Leeds and questioned one of the decision makers about the way the proposals were drawn up, the way the consultation was carried out and the way the decision would be made.

During the inquiry, the committee had to form a number of conclusions without important evidence when requests for information were either refused by the national review team or reports commissioned by the decision makers would not be completed until the consultation had closed. The scrutiny committee strongly expressed its serious concerns at this.

Cllr Mulherin added:
“We were very concerned by the apparent disregard for the democratic scrutiny of this process, for the reluctance of the decision makers to be open to challenge or held to account for the way in which options that went out to consultation were drawn up. This is very worrying when you consider that the outcomes of this review will have a long term and significant impact on vulnerable ill children and their families.”

Leeds Children’s Hospital provides the most comprehensive range of co-located clinical services for children with congenital heart problems. These services include foetal cardiology, maternity, neonatal, all inpatient children’s specialities and adult congenital services, supported by a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, with 24/7 consultant support, along with dedicated psychology and specialist nurses. There are 41 rooms for use by families who wish to be resident at the hospital, and this includes a purpose built 22 bedded facility which is managed by the Sick Children’s Trust.

Leeds is one of only two hospitals across the country to provide such a comprehensive range of services under one roof – the other hospital being in Southampton.

With a three-surgeon team, the Leeds surgical centre delivered 316 cardiac surgical procedures for children in 2009/10 – the third highest number of procedures outside of London. However, there is a clear need for a fourth surgeon to meet current demand for the treatment of patients within Yorkshire and the Humber.

The committee is recommending an alternative eight centre model for the configuration of designated surgical centres as follows.
• Leeds General Infirmary
• Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool
• Birmingham Children’s Hospital
• Bristol Royal Hospital for Children
• Freeman Hospital, Newcastle
• Southampton General Hospital
• Two centres in London

The full scrutiny report is available on: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/mgConvert2Pdf.aspx?ID=9741&T=9

The membership of the Yorkshire and Humber Joint Health and Overview and Scrutiny Committee is:
Barnsley MBC – Cllr Jen Worton
Bradford MDC – Cllr Mike Gibbons
Calderdale Council – Cllr Ruth Goldthorpe
City of York Council – Cllr Sian Wiseman
Doncaster MBC – Cllr Tony Revill
East Riding of Yorkshire Council – Cllr Barbara Hall
Hull City Council – Cllr Danny Brown
Kirklees Council – Cllr Liz Smaje
Leeds City Council – Cllr Lisa Mulherin (chair)
North East Lincolnshire Council – Cllr Karl Wilson
North Lincolnshire Council – Cllr Jean Bromby
North Yorkshire County Council – Cllr Jim Clark
Rotherham MBC – Cllr Shaukat Ali
Sheffield City Council – Cllr Ian Saunders
Wakefield Council – Cllr Betty Rhodes

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3602
Email donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk