Shake-up for waste PFIs

Defra is changing the way it awards PFI credits to proposed waste infrastructure projects in an attempt to ensure the best initiatives get the backing they deserve.

Under the previous system, local authorities were encouraged to bid for a pot of cash throughout the year but once the money was gone, it was gone.

This meant that those proposals which were received early in the year stood a much better chance of getting credits, as it was essentially a first-come, first-served system.

Now the department plans to create clearly defined windows - Awards Rounds - when bids can be made to encourage well-thought out, quality applications rather than the hastily put together variety.

Applications will be judged on criteria including value for money, scale, deliverability, readiness and environmental objectives.

According to Defra the key changes to the system are:

  • The introduction of the Award Rounds for local authorities to use when submitting an Outline Business Case for PFI credits.

  • A requirement for local authorities to complete a new Planning Health checklist when submitting their Outline Business Case.

  • Eligibility will be based in part on compliance with published PFI criteria, and in part on additional criteria which will enable a managed pipeline of investments to be procured, supporting the acceleration of infrastructure delivery whilst offering value for money.

    An estimated £11 billion of infrastructure will be needed if the UK is to meet is landfill diversion targets and public-private partnerships are part of the Government's strategy to secure this level of investment.

    Director of Defra's Waste Implementation Programme John Burns has written to all local authority chief executives to explain how the system will operate.

    "This change of approach is one of a number of steps which Defra is taking to ensure that England will meet its EU Landfill Diversion targets on a timely and cost-effective basis," he said.

    Sam Bond

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