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Council blunder reveals Balfour Beatty EfW contract details

Commercially sensitive details of a major Balfour Beatty contract to build an energy-from-waste plant in Gloucestershire have been inadvertently released following a blunder by Gloucestershire County Council.

The local authority has launched an internal investigation into the mistake that saw previously hidden details of the Urbaser Balfour Beatty joint venture’s design and build contract for the proposed £500m Javelin Park scheme made public.

Gloucestershire County Council insisted 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 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The council said the contract had been replaced by a new document in which the redactions could not be manipulated.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 council 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 – a joint venture between Balfour Beatty and Spanish-based waste management company Urbaser – signed the contract to design and build the EfW facility in February 2013.

It was refused planning permission by Gloucestershire Council’s planning committee just a month later due to visual reasons.

UBB appealed the decision and in January 2015 the JV was given the green light to start construction by the then communities secretary Eric Pickles.

The 2019 completion date is nearly three years later than first planned.

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