In a statement, Covanta welcomed the decision to grant an injunction preventing Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA) from entering into its Resource Recovery Contract with SITA until there has been a trial of Covanta’s claim that the procurement process was legally flawed.
“We believe Covanta has a strong case against MWDA and it is great that the clear economic benefits for Merseyside in our bid are now in the public domain,” Fiona Penhallurick, managing director, Covanta UK, said. “Our solution would save hundreds of millions of pounds for Merseyside taxpayers, create local jobs in Merseyside and be better for the environment by avoiding transporting this waste right across the country.”
Fiona Penhallurick, Covanta – “The judgment also highlights how incomprehensible it is that after six years, and hours of dialogue with MWDA during the tendering process, two elements of our bid out of a total of five were scored at 0 percent”
Covanta’s solution of developing an energy from waste plant at Ince Park in Cheshire brings significant regional economic benefit compared with SITA’s solution to transport the waste 100 miles across the country to a site in Teesside, according to the company.
In MWDA’s tender analysis for the financial criteria, which accounted for 40 percent of the total score, Covanta scored 17.85 percent against SITA’s 11.33 percent.
Mr Justice Coulson addressed the tender evaluation where Covanta’s bid scored 0 percent under both “legal and contractual” and the “overall integrity” criteria. In its Particulars of Claim, Covanta raises a number of concerns relating to the evaluation process. It alleges manifest errors occurred in the scoring of its tender and that, during six years of competitive dialogue, MWDA failed to inform Covanta that important aspects of its tender were “fundamentally unacceptable” in breach of its duty to act transparently.
In the judgment, Mr Justice Coulson writes: “It may seem, at least at first sight, a curious result that six years of procurement process (including two and a half years of intensive dialogue between authority and tenderer) can lead to the authority’s rejection of important aspects of that tender in so firm a manner as occurred here. That suggests that something, somewhere, went very wrong with the tender process.
The judgment said that there are serious issues to be tried including establishing whether “Covanta were materially misled by MWDA or whether, conversely, MWDA were making it plain what they wanted and how they expected Covanta to react”.
Fiona Penhallurick continued: “The judgment also highlights how incomprehensible it is that after six years, and hours of dialogue with MWDA during the tendering process, two elements of our bid out of a total of five were scored at 0 percent.
“The whole point of the competitive dialogue process is to ensure that the authority ends up with a choice between two excellent bids. We invested considerable time, money and effort in seeking to ensure we offered a bid that was intended to be not just acceptable but very attractive to MWDA. Our case is that MWDA went through the whole process without informing us that elements of our bid were not compliant. As a result we believe that this has delivered the people of Merseyside a less economic and less beneficial outcome.”