Council accused over waste collection services

 

A waste collection company has claimed before the High Court that Dublin City Council is seeking to “re-monopolise” the household collection service in the capital.

The claim was made by counsel for Nurendale Ltd, trading as Panda Waste Services, Rathdrinagh, Beauparc Business Park, Navan, Co Meath.

Panda is seeking a court order to overturn the Council’s decision altering the existing waste permit regime, under which some private collectors operate in the market, to one where collection is carried out by the local authority or a single collector appointed by the council.

Panda claims moves to alter the current regime is an abuse of the Dublin local councils’ dominant market position. The company is also seeking damages.

Opening the case, Martin Hayden SC, for the company said there was a deliberate decision by the city council to “re-monopolise” the waste collection market.

Up to 1996, all household waste in Dublin had been collected by directly employed local authority workers. After 1996, a licensing system was introduced allowing private firms to operate. A number of such operators, including Panda, got involved.

Mr Hayden said the main reason the city council wants to re-monopolise the collection system is because it has entered into a contract to provide 320,000 tonnes of rubbish per year for the planned municipal waste incinerator at Poolbeg in Dublin.

The company is asking the court to judicially review a decision by the council, on behalf of all of the city’s four local authorities, to vary the Dublin waste management plan. Panda claims the decision is essentially an attempt to prohibit the collection of waste by the private sector.

Mr Hayden said comments made in correspondence by assistant city council manager, Matt Twomey, showed that it was the intended there would be no private operators in the market.

The city council says that it is its intention that collection of household waste will be by a single operator, either the local authority, or as a result of a tendering process.

Panda Waste was set up in 1990 and employs 250 people. It has an annual turnover of around €50m and some 28,000 domestic customers in Dublin. In 2005, the company implemented a business plan in which it focused on the domestic waste collection market, particularly in Dublin. It competed in Dun Laoghaire, Fingal and South Dublin Council areas and bought the Smurfit Recycling plant in Ballymount.

The case before Mr Justice Liam McKechnie continues.