Hitachi Zosen Inova

Portakabin to provide modular buildings at Midlothian Energy from Waste facility

Plans for the Visitor Centre to be delivered by Portakabin

Modular construction provider Portakabin has won a contract to deliver three separate buildings at a multi-million pound Energy from Waste (EfW) plant in Midlothian.

The Millerhill Recycling and Energy Recovery Centre is being built by Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) on behalf of FCC Environment, who have signed a 25-year contract with City of Edinburgh and Midlothian councils.

Portakabin is working with Hitachi Zosen Inova and FCC Environment to deliver a visitor centre, welfare area and gatehouse at the site.

The EfW facility, which is set to begin operation by 2019, will treat around 135,000 tonnes of household residual waste a year, and a further 20,000 tonnes of commercial waste a year from which the plant will generate sufficient electricity to satisfy the energy demands of up to approximately 32,000 households in the Edinburgh and Midlothian area.

After developing a comprehensive tender for the project, detailing the aesthetics and benefits of a modular build, Portakabin was chosen as the specialist subcontractor for the visitor centre, welfare area and gatehouse. The modular offering meant Portakabin was able to adapt a standardised format to suit Millerhill’s specific requirements. The Portakabin values and overall attitude to health and safety was endemic to this decision.

A high value contract to deliver the customisable modular system, the buildings will be handed over in early 2018 and will form an important part of the site when the facility opens in 2019.

A modular solution, built off-site by Portakabin, has allowed the team at Millerhill to experience the benefits of moving away from a traditionally built structure. The team were able to inspect the modules before they left the Portakabin manufacturing factory in York which helped visualise any prospective challenges with the final install and fit-out.

With an initial design focussed on traditional construction methods, the Millerhill team were delighted to see that the required high specification of the build could still be met by a Portakabin modular solution.

Andy Smith, project director for FCC Environment, said: “It has been great to see Portakabin and HZI work together on this innovative solution to the buildings required for our new facility at Millerhill. Despite being constructed off-site, it has still been possible to meet the detailed requirements of our existing Planning Permission and to fulfil our operational needs.  Our team is looking forward to moving into the new buildings in due course.”

Richard Keane, site manager for HZI, emphasises the advantages of the collaboration: “Their expertise helped us to realise the design under the most efficient and safe conditions. The finished product is excellent and clearly demonstrates the advantages of modular construction.”

Paul Kyle, regional sales manager for Portakabin in Scotland, added: “The benefit of a modular solution delivers an incredibly efficient and safe build. Our focus was to reduce impact and disruption in an already busy location and this in turn will help the Millerhill project reach full operation quickly. We’re delighted HZI and FCC have chosen to support an innovative UK company by working with us on this exciting project.”

Construction firm accused of showing ‘utter contempt’ to social dumping fears

The Millerhill Resource and Energy Recovery Centre

The Millerhill Resource and Energy Recovery Centre

Trade unions GMB Scotland and Unite have accused construction giant Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) of treating workers and politicians with “utter contempt” following its response to social dumping fears on the Millerhill Recycling & Energy Recovery Centre (RERC) project.

After a joint trades union meeting with the City of Edinburgh Council leadership last week, council officers received feedback from HZI to trades union questions over undercutting of the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) – commonly known as the ‘Blue Book’ – through the sub contracts and supply chains. The Blue Book exists to protect minimum pay levels, appropriate safety standards and builds in procedures for dispute resolution.

Having argued for the project to provide jobs for local people, the joint unions said that the response to the council did not contain any assurances that jobs on the project are actually being advertised locally.

Among other questions posed over concerns that Millerhill is not a NAECI site, HZI replied: “As the project is not registered as a NAECI site the NAECI agreement does not apply. However HZI Industrial Relations Policy recognises the importance and understanding of the NAECI and the essential employment relations principles on which the NAECI is founded.”

The Scottish Government has previously been informed about concerns of employment rights abuses and migrant labour exploitation on publicly funded Energy from Waste (EfW) projects at Polmadie in Glasgow and Oxwellmains in Dunbar.

GMB Scotland organiser, Gary Cook, said: “HZI bosses took a month to respond to our serious concerns over the danger of social dumping at Millerhill, only to then treat the engineering construction unions and our elected councillors with utter contempt.

“If this response is a measure of the industry’s respect for employment rights and our politics then I’m afraid the sector is going down the drain. HZI are blatantly disregarding hard fought industry minimums that exist to ensure decent work and decent pay and they clearly don’t give two hoots what the Scottish Government’s fair work agenda says.

“The company which is making money from taxpayer funded contracts described the unions’ request for access to the site as ‘not required’. Their indifference towards the City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government should be a source of major embarrassment to both.”

Unite Scotland officer, Scott Foley, added: “The fact that HZI refuse to directly answer the serious concerns raised within our submitted questions and the way they have essentially refused us access to the workforce, speaks volumes.

“This construction project like so many others is being built with public money and we believe that the public expect local jobs and decent terms and conditions for workers to form an intrinsic part of the procurement process – not social dumping and worker exploitation.

“The fact that HZI aren’t prepared to commit to this or provide evidence will concern all constituents of the local authorities that this Energy from Waste plant will serve.”