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County to appeal incinerator disclosure order

Gloucestershire County Council is set to appeal against a ruling that it must disclose information about a contract for a new energy recovery plant.

It said every council in the country could be affected if it were established that information considered commercially confidential had to be published.

Campaign GlosVAIN gained a decision from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that Gloucestershire must disclose various financial details of its dealings with contractor Urbaser Balfour Beatty on the Javelin Park project, which the council had refused to publish.

But Gloucestershire is to take the matter to the Information Tribunal for a ruling on whether what it believes is the confidential nature of the information outweighs the public interest in its publication.

GlosVAIN said it expected publication would reveal that “the incinerator is a dreadful financial deal for Gloucestershire taxpayers”.

But council deputy leader Ray Theodoulou said the ICO had recognised the information in question was confidential but that Gloucestershire had not provided sufficient information on the effects of releasing it. 

“It is our intention to provide that additional information to the Information Tribunal, and to ask them to look again at this independently,” he said.

“If companies that bid for council services know that their pricing or their methods of operating are going to be revealed to their competitors, taxpayers are going to have a very significant cost to bear. 

“This is an important point, with serious consequences for all councils in Britain, which needs further independent examination.”

Theodoulou said 95% of information about the contract was already in the public domain.

The £50m facility is intended to process up to 190,000 tonnes of residual household waste a year and generate 116,000MWh of electricity annually from 2019, as well as producing 30,000 tonnes of sustainable aggregates a year and recover around 3,000 tonnes of metals.

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