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Blunder reveals confidential contract details

Commercially sensitive details of a contract to build the Javelin Park energy-from-waste (EfW) plant in Gloucestershire have been inadvertently released by Gloucestershire County Council.

The local authority has launched an internal investigation into the mistake that saw previously hidden details of the contract for the proposed £500m scheme made public.

The council insisted that construction would not be affected by the investigation and said the project was still expected to hit its scheduled completion date in 2019.

A redacted version of the Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) joint venture’s design and build contract was released on the council’s website following a freedom of information request by campaigners.

An investigation by the BBC found a way to circumvent the redactions to reveal details of the contract, which were not published for legal reasons. 

The council said the contract had been replaced by a new document in which the redactions could not be manipulated.

A spokesman said: “An earlier version of the waste contract published on the council website could be manipulated to expose the redactions. This was replaced as soon as we were aware.

“There is an ongoing investigation into how this happened and we have informed the information tribunal.”

Last year the information commissioner ordered the council to release an unredacted version of the contract. The council has appealed this verdict and a final decision is currently being considered by an information tribunal.

UBB signed the contract to design and build the EfW facility in February 2013 but planning permission was refused for visual reasons.

UBB appealed the decision and, in January 2015, the then communities secretary Eric Pickles said construction could begin. The 2019 completion date is nearly three years later than first planned.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Why are councils so reluctant to hide prices paid to burn waste in Incinerators from tax payers? Anybody would think they had something to hide.

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