Amey sells stakes in multi-billion Sheffield and North Yorkshire PFI schemes to mystery buyers

Amey is running the Sheffield Streets Ahead highways project until 2037.
Amey is running the Sheffield Streets Ahead highways project until 2037.
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Stakes in Sheffield’s controversial £2bn highways project and a £1.2bn North Yorkshire waste recovery park and incinerator which opened last year have been sold by infrastructure firm Amey to mystery buyers.

An annual report by Amey’s parent company Ferrovial has revealed the sale of stakes in PFI deals relating to the Sheffield Streets Ahead highways contract and the Allerton Waste Recovery Park incinerator in North Yorkshire.

It states: “The capital gain registered amounts to €30 million included in the net profit/(loss) from discontinued operations."

A spokesman for Amey said the company remains an equity shareholder in both PFIs and the sales have “no bearing on day-to-day operations” of either the Sheffield highways work or the waste recovery facility, which opened last year.

He said: “This divestment has no bearing on day-to-day operations. The Streets Ahead contract is unchanged and Amey remains fully committed to delivering the Streets Ahead programme for the people of Sheffield.

“It is common for contractors to invest significantly in PFIs at the start of their lifetime as a way of sharing the financial risk and incentivising banks to back projects.

“It is also common for companies to undertake divestments in mature projects so that investment can be focused on new projects.

“This is important as this helps much-needed infrastructure projects get off the ground. We are proud to play a crucial role in developing infrastructure projects across the UK.”

Amey said non-disclosure agreements prevented it revealing details of the buyers of the stakes.

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It comes after it was revealed in December that Ferrovial was looking to sell “all or part” of its services division, including Amey.

Amey reported a £189.8m pre-tax loss for 2017 after being forced to make a provision of more than £200m for its highways contract in Birmingham, where the company has been involved in a long-running payment dispute over the quality of work being carried out.

The £2.2bn Sheffield Streets Ahead deal began in 2012 and is due to run until 2037, with Amey responsible for upgrading the city’s roads, pavements and street lights. But the deal, which Sheffield Council entered into as a way of securing £1bn of investment in the work from the Government, has been mired in controversy connected to the policy of felling thousands of street trees and replacing them with saplings.

Campaigners have argued many healthy trees were felled unnecessarily and in recent months, the council and Amey have adopted a new approach designed to reduce the numbers being removed in favour of extra kerb repairs.

Alan Story, from No Stump City, one of the campaign groups against the Sheffield tree-felling work, has now written to Sheffield Council asking them if the authority will reveal the identity of the new owners of the Streets Ahead stake.

“I do hope you do not think it is a step too far for Sheffielders to know the identity of companies to whom we will be sending millions of pounds until the year 2037,” he said in an email seen by The Yorkshire Post.

The Allerton Waste Recovery Park became fully operational in spring last year after a 25-year contract began in 2014.

It processes up to 320,000 tonnes of rubbish per year from York and North Yorkshire, involving an incinerator referred to as an ‘energy from waste’ plant which produces enough electricity to power 40,000 homes, as well as a mechanical treatment plant and an anaerobic digestion plant.