Waste of money: Campaign to investigate the rising cost of incinerator reaches critical stage
The ongoing campaign into the hike in cost of a new waste incinerator in Gloucestershire by the group Community R4C has reached a critical phase as the organisation looks for added support to continue its battle for justice. R4C is seeking to expose the way the tender has been handled stating it is a breach of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR2015).
The cost of the controversial incinerator project based at Javelin Park has spiralled from £450m nominal tonnage payments when the contract was awarded in 2013 to £600m – an increase of around 30%. Taking account of the additional capital payments upfront, this equates to a total cost per Gloucestershire household for the entire project of a whopping £2,486.
In order to continue its legal challenge and to increase awareness of the issues, Community R4C has launched a crowd funding campaign which has already reached its first milestone of £10,000 against a total £30,000 target.
The decision to push on with the incinerator contract despite vocal opposition, comes after several years of stringent budget cuts which have seen vital services axed in order to save £160m over eight years.
It is planning to hike council tax by five per cent in 2019/20 to cover increased spending on help for the elderly and support for the growing number of children in care.
But despite the need for a further savings of £21m, the council has ploughed on with the waste incinerator now being built, ignoring possible cheaper alternatives.
Community R4C filed a lawsuit in January against the local authority insisting the contract should have been retendered. Lawyer Ken McEwan of firm Gregg Latchams, acting for the group said: “There is clearly a case to answer, we have received an initial response from the legal counsel for Gloucestershire County Council, we are preparing our case and we will work with Community R4C to push for an early trial.”
The campaigners, who have been opposing the waste incinerator near junction 12 of the M5 for four years, claim the project is damaging to health, the environment and council funds.
The group said it had been developing a much cheaper waste processing plant and would have bid for the contract had there been an opportunity.
Sue Oppenheimer, R4C board member, said: “The contract has increased by a staggering £150m making it 30% more expensive. By law, it should have been retendered.
“Instead Gloucestershire County Council has spent around half a million pounds keeping this information secret.
“With the support of the community, we had been working on a much cheaper waste processing plant and would have bid for the contract.
“Our plant would have increased recycling, reduced pollution and would have been a better deal for the environment and the taxpayer.”
More than 4,000 people wrote to object to the building of the incinerator next to an area of outstanding natural beauty and the council’s own planning committee unanimously rejected the plans.
But the plans were pushed through regardless and the construction of the plant is now nearing completion.
R4C claim the plant will waste almost 80% of the energy generated and emit greenhouse gases and dioxins. The group says more than 50% of the material that will be burnt is recyclable.
The fee is set at £190 per tonne of waste for the first 108,000 tonnes, which is almost twice the cost of alternatives, according to documents on R4C’s website.