Peel Group chairman John Whittaker has added his voice to the chorus of calls for a £1.2bn Merseyside waste management contract to be reconsidered.
Whittaker has joined Ellesmere Port MP Andrew Miller and Liverpool mayor Cllr Joe Anderson in urging the Merseyside Recycling & Waste Authority to look again at their decision to award preferred bidder status to a North East consortium, headed by SITA, for a massive contract that would see waste from the Liverpool city region transported and processed in Teesside.
He says a rival proposal from US-based Covanta – which included a partnership with a division of the Peel Group – offered major economic development benefits for the North West and is calling on the waste authority to reconsider both bids.
He said: "I would normally never comment on a public tendering process, especially where a Peel business has a vested interest.
"However, the ramifications for the North West economy of this contract going outside the region are so important that I felt I had to speak out.
"Over time, our planned joint venture at Ince Park, Ellesmere Port with Covanta has the scope to create over 2,000 construction jobs and up to 3,000 operating jobs.
"There would be half a billion pounds of US investment in just the first phase and enough clean electricity to meet 16% of the North West's sustainable energy target.
"Furthermore, I understand that Covanta would save the authority more than £210m over and above the SITA bid, over the life of the contract.
"What I am saying, along with the local MP, is that the people of Ellesmere Port, Merseyside and the North West need to be reassured that those benefits were given due consideration.
"Only last week, we heard that this area stands to lose 200 million Euros in European aid and its councils face a further 10% of cuts from central government.
"With so much at stake, surely the Waste Authority should reconvene, without prejudice, and look again at their processes.We need to be sure that a very costly error is not being made."
The Ince Park project, of which the Energy from Waste plant is central, remains a key element in Atlantic Gateway, which spans the three Local Enterprise Partnership areas of Liverpool City Region, Cheshire & Warrington and Greater Manchester.
The projects within Atlantic Gateway are designed to allow the North West region to remain competitive and build on its existing strengths through the support of its partners in the public and private sector.