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Legal battle looms for Balfour JV's £500M waste plant

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The contract award for a £500M energy from waste plant to an Urbaser Balfour Beatty joint venture (UBB) is facing a legal challenge. 

Gloucestershire County Council has been accused of breaking procurement laws when it altered the terms of its construction and operations contract for the 14MW energy from waste plant contract in 2015. 

Community benefit society Community R4C has filed papers with the Bristol High Court for what it alleges is a “serious breach” of public contract regulations law.  

The original contract was awarded to UBB in February 2013 after undergoing a normal procurement process. However the JV was denied planning permission later that year, resulting in changes to the original contact, and an alleged 30% cost increase from £455M to £600M. 

Community R4C claims that these changes should have resulted in a new procurement process. 

In documents submitted to the HIgh Court, Community R4C claims it “lost a significant chance of being awarded a contract, due to the failure to put the second contract out to tender.”  

Community R4C, a not-for-profit company, claims to have raised £100,000 by selling shares to develop an alternative bid and is seeking damages to cover shareholders’ losses.

Nigel Moor, council cabinet member for environment and planning denied R4C’s claims.  

“The council ran a competitive process following procurement law to select a company to deal with the county’s household waste that can’t 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.”  

UBB has been approached for comment.  The plant is currently under construction and is expected to be operational in July 2019.

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