CONTROVERSIAL asphalt plant plans linked to the winning PFI bidders face a challenge from a rival.
Aggregate Industries, parent company of Bardon Vectis, wants to create a replacement asphalt plant at its Blackwater Quarry, on St George’s Down.
The company said it should give Isle of Wight residents a "realistic alternative" to proposals submitted by Eurovia Roadstone, part of the Vinci highways PFI group, for an asphalt plant near Cowes.
It has emerged that, as part of the unsuccessful PFI bid by Wight Highways Partnership consortium, Bardon Vectis had plans of its own to apply for planning permission for a replacement asphalt plant at Blackwater to supply asphalt for the project.
But after rival Vinci Ringway was named preferred bidder for the PFI, those plans were shelved.
Aggregate Industries said it had decided to resurrect its plans and hoped to submit a planning application within two weeks.
In a letter to Cowes Town Council, Rob Westell, Aggregate Industries estates manager – south east, said: "It should be noted that Eurovia has no interest in Blackwater Quarry, but we would be perfectly willing to discuss the possibility of supplying them with asphalt to meet PFI demand.
"It should also be noted that asphalt production at Blackwater Quarry will carry on regardless of whether or not asphalt is supplied to the PFI contract."
In the letter, Mr Westell refuted suggestions Blackwater Quarry was close to being 'mined out’.
He said: "At current levels of output, Blackwater Quarry contains approximately seven years of permitted sand and gravel reserves, with additional satellite reserves around the Island which would be brought to Blackwater Quarry for processing projected to last well beyond seven years.
"Any suggestion that Blackwater Quarry is unsuitable for the ongoing production of asphalt is unfounded."
The letter was read out at a packed meeting of Wight Residents Against Asphalt Plant (WRAP) — formed to oppose the River Medina plans — last night (Wednesday).
WRAP spokesman, Julia Hill, said: "We are not against the production of asphalt on the Island. However, it is common sense to use the most appropriate site and it is quite obvious this has not been fully assessed."
*Mobilisation Director for Vinci Ringway, David Gibby told the County Press they had not ruled out working with Aggregate Industries.
"However, at this stage, as Aggregate Industries are a shareholder within the Wight Highways Partnership we believe we are bound by the legal constraints relating to the PFI Bid process.
"As the Wight Highways Partnership is reserved bidder, and until the completion of this established process, we are not able to have formal dialogue with the other interested parties relating to competitor bids.
"We understand the high level of interest from residents on the Island regarding the new highways PFI contract and we are very much looking forward to communicating the detail behind our plans for the future of the Island’s highways network as soon as the process permits.
"We believe it is a positive move that both Aggregate Industries, operating as Bardon Vectis, and Eurovia Roadstone will have operating asphalt plants on the Island, providing additional jobs and competition for the supply of asphalt."
Click here to view the letter from Aggregate Industries to Cowes Town Council.
Click here to view the minutes of an informal Cowes Town Council meeting held on May 31 with representatives of Eurovia regarding the proposed Asphalt Plant at Medina Wharf, Cowes.