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Javelin Park EfW project faces legal challenge

The decision to award a Balfour Beatty joint venture (JV) the £500m contract to build an energy-from-waste (EfW) plant in Gloucestershire is facing a legal challenge.

A community group opposed to the project says it filed papers at the High Court last week alleging that Gloucester County Council’s deal with the Urbaser/Balfour Beatty (UBB) JV to build and operate the Javelin Park EfW plant was in breach of procurement law.

Responding to the allegations from the group, known as Community R4C, Gloucestershire county councillor and cabinet member for the environment and planning Nigel Moor denied the group’s claims.

“The council ran a competitive process following procurement law to select a company to deal with the county’s household waste that cannot be reduced, reused or recycled,” he said.

“The council has now received a legal claim from R4C in relation to that process and we are currently reviewing our response.”

The challenge comes after the council was forced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to publish details of the contract between the JV and the council.

The ICO ruling required Gloucestershire to publish details, such as bid costs and capital expenditure figures, in relation to the deal it signed with UBB.

The council argued to the ICO that such details would reveal UBB’s “inner playbook”, and represent a disadvantage for contract opportunities for which it was currently tendering.

In 2012, Gloucestershire signed a £500m deal with UBB to design, build and operate the Javelin Park EfW incinerator facility near Haresfield.

But work did not begin on the plant until 2015 following planning challenges, with UBB and the council revising the 2012 plan and updating its financial agreements.

Accountant EY was recruited to carry out analysis of the updated costs to see if the revised deal provided value for money for the council.

In 2017, a redacted version of the contract was published by the council. The decision to redact certain sections was appealed by a local resident, who argued to the ICO that the publication did not provide enough detail to assess whether the contract provided value for money, and called on the council to publish the EY report.

The appeal was partially successful, with the ICO ruling that the council was wrong not to disclose some of the information in the report.

Balfour Beatty has been contacted for comment.

This article was first published by MRW’s sister title Construction News

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