Guernsey solid waste treatment plant tendering process already exposed as inherently flawed

January 8th, 2010 by Rosie

In early January 2010 I listened to Deputy Flouquet tell us on the radio of the ‘robust’ and ‘transparent’ way that the search for a waste plant has been conducted.  He told us that the documentation is all there for us to read, should we so wish.

It has to be remembered that these comments are made from the safety of knowing that precious few people will volunteer to plough through 10 years worth of, (what can only be described as turgid) documentation, billets, reports etc.   He knows, as well as we all know, that no-one will.

However, in 2008 there was a group of people who did do just that. Collectively they gave hundreds and hundreds of hours of their free time to thoroughly trawl through all the reports, documentation etc so that they could write their findings and conclusions on the procurement procedure into a shorter report for the benefit of all the Deputies and us, the public.   The huge amount of time that they put into their research was far in excess of anything that had been envisaged at the formation of the group and meant that they became far more knowledgeable about the subject than probably anyone in the States.

Their conclusion was that the tendering process was inherently flawed and would result in a plant that would be ‘inappropriate to the needs of the Island of Guernsey on grounds of cost, capacity and environmental impact’. Any form of ‘mass-burn’ incineration would be prohibitively expensive and utterly unsuitable. They suggested that the tendering process be ‘suspended forthwith’.

When the report was finished, the group were asked to delay the publication of it and being keen to be seen as unpolitical, they agreed. Too late they realised that by so doing, the Deputies were not given adequate time to read and understand the report before it would be debated in the States.  In the ensuing debate, over half the Guernsey deputies recognised that the report needed more time to be looked at in greater detail and the comments listened to.  Unfortunately, the two Alderney Deputies voted last, and felt that the report should be thrown out and the current tendering process continued. Their vote swung the debate against the report by just one vote.   (oh! the irony of the Alderney Deputies now saying that they will not send their waste to the Suez waste plant because it will be too expensive….. something that the report had warned about!)

After this debate, the volunteer group were disbanded and told that their services were no longer required.

The group was formed on the request of former PSD Minister Bill Bell and they were called the Waste Disposal People’s Panel, presumedly so called because they were acting on behalf of the ‘people’ to check that the department was acting in the best interest of the ‘people’.  They did their research on behalf of us.  They wrote their report on behalf of us.  They spoke on behalf of us.  They did it because they knew most of us wouldn’t be bothered to go to the efforts they were prepared to on our behalf. Were they listened to?   No!

Deputy Flouquet’s comments that we are all welcome to look at all the documentation consequently has a rather hollow ring to it!

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