Weighing procedures have been changed at an island tip after a review uncovered ‘significant’ discrepancies in the amount of waste sent for disposal to the Energy from Waste plant.
iomtoday understands the alleged irregularities at the Southern Civic Amenity Site in Port St Mary had been going on for a number of years and since the problem was discovered, the tonnage of waste coming out of the site has halved.
Police were called in to investigate but the Attorney General chambers has now concluded there is insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal prosecution.
Previously waste was weighed only when it arrived at the Incinerator. But now consignments are weighed before they leave the tip – as they now are at all the other civic amenity sites.
Ratepayers in the southern parishes will have been picking up the bill for the alleged irregularities. Local authority rates include a sum for refuse collection and disposal based in part on the tonnage of waste sent to the Incinerator.
Latest audited accounts for the Southern Civic Amenity Site Board reveals that a significant deficit in 2012 has been transformed into a sizeable
surplus largely thanks to new weighing procedures.
Tips are budgeted to break even – not to run at a profit.
The board’s report and statement of accounts reads: ‘The result for the year is a surplus of £41,005 compared to a deficit of £18,114 for the year ended March 31, 2012. The weighing of materials entering and leaving the site has resulted in a drop in tonnage enabling cost savings to be made.’
Figures show refuse collection charges fell from £63,766 in 2012 to £46,239 last year – a drop of more than 27 per cent.
It is understood that a review, launched back in June 2012, was instigated by the board after it was advised by another civic amenity site to weigh its waste.
Chairman of the board Derek Cain declined to comment.
Infrastructure Minister David Cretney MHK said: ‘Following a review of the waste levels at the Southern Civic Amenity Site, an officer of the Department of Infrastructure visited the site to discuss the matter with the site manager.
‘During this visit significant weaknesses in the procedures used to operate the site were identified. The site manager took action to implement improved procedures immediately.
‘Over the following weeks the department monitored the waste levels being generated at the site, and compared them to historical levels. This analysis showed a significant reduction in the waste leaving the site following the introduction of the new procedures.
‘The Department of Infrastructure brought this information to the attention of the chairman of the Southern Civic Amenity Site Board and the site manager, and also asked government’s internal audit to investigate.
‘Following their investigation, internal audit raised an inquiry with the police. The police concluded that there was insufficient evidence to justify a criminal prosecution in relation to the matter.
‘The department’s officers relayed this information to the board of the Southern Civic Amenity Site, and noted that it was now a matter for the board to decide if they were going to take the matter any further. It was made clear to the board of the Southern Civic Amenity Site that the department would not be taking the matter further.’
Mr Cretney added: ‘As Minister, I have been kept appraised of this issue as it has progressed. I was disappointed that the matter could not be brought to a satisfactory conclusion because I believe that there are still unresolved questions.
‘It was, and remains a matter primarily for the Southern Civic Amenity Site Board which is legally responsible for governance of the site. I am advised that since the introduction of the new procedures in 2012 that the waste levels have remained lower than was historically the case, and I draw some comfort from that.’
The board is in the process of awarding a new three-year contract for an operator to provide a waste removal service to the site. Expressions of interest were sought in October. A spokesman for the current contractor said he had no comment to make as he had not been made aware of any issue at the site.
Central government is phasing out its subsidy for waste disposal costs at the incinerator, with the burden being switched onto local authority ratepayers. Charges are increasing each year, having risen from £35 per tonne in 2012 to £57.35 in April last year and will reach £161.35 per tonne by April 2018.
The Southern Civic Amenity Site’s income in 2013 was £279,687, of which £230,195 was from contributions from the six local authorities of Castletown, Port Erin, Port St Mary, Malew, Arbory and Rushen. Other income included £18,184 from charges for commercial users, £2,012 from domestic users and £18,545 from the sale of scrap.