Gloucestershire taken to court over £650m waste to energy contract

Community R4C – a not-for-profit community owned group – is taking Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) to court to challenge the legality of a £650 million contract awarded to consortium Urbaser Balfour Beatty to build an energy from waste facility in Gloucestershire.

The group claims the council illegally handled the re-negotiation of the contract in 2016 by breaking procurement rules and giving what it says amounted to “illegal state aid” to UBB.

If the group is successful, it will be able to pursue the case for between £75 million and £150 million being returned to Gloucestershire County Council by UBB.

The original contract was awarded by GCC to UBB in 2013 but time delays caused by the extended planning process led to its expiration.

GCC re-negotiated the contract with UBB in 2016 which Community R4C says was done “in secret” with no opportunity for other companies to tender for the contract.

Community R4C claims that the awarding of the contract without competitive tendering breaches procurement law, and is also illegal according to State Aid rules.

The community group also claims the plant “fails to fulfil legal obligations to pursue the ‘waste hierarchy’ as set out in the Waste Regulations Act 2011”.

The group has also disputed claims made by the council that the contract will save the county £100 million in waste treatment during the life of the incinerator.

CR4C’s board member, Tom Jarman, said: “We have every right to demand that the illegal subsidy committed to UBB is returned to the county’s taxpayers and that we can move towards waste treatment which is sustainable and economic.

“CR4C has set out the framework for this and again invites the Council to enter into discussion with us to work together to these ends.”

A Gloucestershire County Council spokesperson told Circular Online: “We will continue to challenge the claims made against us and expect the preliminary hearing to take place towards of the end of this year or the start of next.

“Javelin Park will effectively treat the county’s household waste that can’t be reduced, reused or recycled – reducing carbon emissions by 40,000 tonnes a year when compared to landfill and saving taxpayers 100 million pounds over the next 25 years.”

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