Sunday 24 September 2017

NTR mothballs three landfill sites after massive levy hike

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

NTR's Greenstar subsidiary is mothballing its three operational landfill sites in Ireland after a massive hike in levies and competition from continental European incinerators made the sites uneconomical.

NTR confirmed the planned closures yesterday after the group reported a loss of €88.8m for the financial year ended in March. That was substantially narrower than the record-breaking €381m loss NTR reported a year earlier.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, NTR chief executive Michael McNicholas said two of the landfill sites -- in Meath and Galway -- would close within six months. A third, in Co Wicklow, will be mothballed by 2015.

Economics

Mr McNicholas said it was unclear when the sites would re-open but stressed that the economics of the business would have to change radically.

Last September, the levy on a tonne of rubbish headed for landfill jumped from €20 to €50. From July this year it rose again to €65.

"It's very hard to predict what's going to happen," said Mr McNicholas. "The environment is very uncertain. It's also very uncertain whether the Poolbeg incinerator will be built."

Dublin City Council insisted this week that the controversial incinerator was required given the Government's new waste policy, which was unveiled on Wednesday. Mr McNicholas said it was currently more economical to package waste here and ship it to mainland Europe to be incinerated than to send it to landfill in Ireland.

NTR has written about €100m off the value of its Irish Greenstar business and it is now fully written off in the group's books, although it still has to consolidate losses made by the division. NTR impaired the value of the Greenstar business by €34.8m in the last financial year.

The group continues to remain in talks with seven banks, including Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, about restructuring around €90m in debt at Greenstar.

NTR wants a bigger writedown than banks have so far been willing to agree to.

NTR also wrote €21.5m off the value of its 18.6pc stake in telecoms group Imagine last year, and chief financial officer Neil Parkinson said the stake was now fully impaired.

Revenue at NTR was almost unchanged at €327m in the last financial year, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation doubled to €17.4m. It was helped by better earnings at its US-based energy group, Wind Capital.

NTR boosted its stake in the Missouri-based business to 97pc earlier this year after selling nearly its entire holding in Nebraska-headquartered bio-ethanol group Green Plains for $72m (€58). Mr McNicholas said the economy in Ireland and the US is extremely challenging. He declined to give any financial forecasts for the current financial year.

Irish Independent

Also in Business