Sunday 7 February 2010

Incinerator advisers paid €21 million

Dublin City Council has paid nearly €15 million more than it originally agreed to consultants advising it on the controversial Poolbeg incinerator project.

The council agreed to pay €6.5 million to the consortium, headed by consulting engineers RPS, in July 2001, according to documents seen by The Sunday Business Post.

However, the local authority had paid out more than €21 million up to the start of this year for services connected to the incinerator project.

The consortium consisted of RPS, engineering firm MC O’Sullivan, Cowi Consult, and several smaller service providers and sub-contractors. RPS bought out MC O’Sullivan in 2002, shortly after the initial deal was signed with the council.

According to a breakdown of the sums paid out to the consortium members, MC O’Sullivan and RPS had been paid €13.3million and €5million respectively by January. RPS was recently criticised in a High Court judgment for ‘‘massaging’’ key waste reports which it carried out for Dublin city council.

Mr Justice Liam McKechie criticised the firm after a High Court case in which private waste operators Panda and Greenstar challenged the council’s plan to vary the capital’s waste plan and direct waste to the planned incinerator.

RPS won the separate tender to carry out these technical reports at the same time as it had the contract to provide consultancy services to the council.

A spokeswoman for the consortium said that the fees for consultants had been paid to RPS as the lead consultant on the ‘clients rep team’ over a nine-year period.

The clients rep team consists of RPS, Cowi , Durango Browne, Mary Murphy Associates, PricewaterhouseCoopers, McCann Fitzgerald, EC Harris, and at least 15 additional sub-consultants.

While the €21 million has been paid out by the council, the spokeswoman said that significant costs had already been recouped from Covanta, the private firm that is partnering the council on the incinerator project.

She said it was envisaged that there would be a further reconciliation of consultancy costs with Covanta before opening the plant.

Sunday Business Post

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