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Urbaser Balfour Beatty set for court case over Essex waste plant

Essex County Council has moved a step closer to taking a Balfour Beatty JV to court over contractual issues surrounding the performance of a multi-million-pound waste plant near Basildon.

The council confirmed that it had failed to reach contractual agreements with Urbaser Balfour Beatty, Balfour’s 30:70 joint venture with Spanish waste giant Urbaser, over the performance of the plant, and was now taking preliminary steps to court proceedings.

In 2012 Urbaser Balfour Beatty won the £800m contract to design, build and operate the waste treatment facility for Essex County Council, being chosen over Skanska, Costain and John Laing Investments for the contract.

Balfour led on the design, construction and commissioning of the facility before handing over to Urbaser to operate.

The deal was signed under a public-private partnership agreement in which Balfour was to invest approximately £7m in the project.

The council has now said that during the commissioning of the plant it has become aware of a number of plant performance and the processing issues that it had attempted to resolve with UBB.

Essex County Council cabinet member for environment and waste Simon Walsh said: “Both parties have been using the appropriate contractual mechanisms to resolve these issues.

“The next stage in this process, where there has been no final determination of the issues, is for matters to be considered by the court and we are in the preliminary stages of this next step.

“Because of the confidential nature of the contract and the status of discussions, we cannot discuss these matters publicly, and it would of course be wrong for us to do so.

“Our contractor is bound by exactly the same constraints. It is important to note that the Basildon MBT is operating, and diverting considerable waste from landfill.”

The Essex plant is the second waste plant that the Urbaser and Balfour Beatty has worked together on after the JV also won a £500m deal for the design, build and operation of the Javelin Park EfW in Gloucestershire (pictured).

The Javelin Park  scheme has been beset with delays, with construction only starting last November nearly four years after the contract was signed.

In March environmental campaigners called for construction on the plant to be stopped immediately after details of the £500m contract were made public.

Balfour Beatty declined to comment.

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