Celebs back community incinerator challenge
Celebs back community incinerator challenge
Jonathon Porritt, environmental author and consultant, and Jeremy Irons, actor and campaigner on waste issues, are backing the launch of a crowdfunding campaign to support a High Court challenge against Gloucestershire County Council.
Stroud-based recycling campaign group Community R4C believes GCC broke procurement law by failing to re-tender the controversial Javelin Park incinerator contract with Urbaser Balfour Beatty. Sue Oppenheimer, one of Community R4C’s directors says: “Figures released just before Christmas show that contract costs increased by £150m, an astonishing 30%, when renegotiated in 2015. Procurement rules allow for up to a 10% variation from an original contract but any more must trigger a public re-tender. GCC did not do this but instead actively suppressed the information for years.”
Community R4C has launched the crowdfunder at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/cr4c/ to help pay the legal costs of the challenge.
Jonathon Porritt has thrown his weight behind the campaign:
“The scandal associated with Gloucestershire County Council’s heinous decision to commission the Javelin Park incinerator deepens by the day. I wholly commend the indefatigable efforts of Community R4C to force the Council to come clean on the decisions it has taken over the last few years, and to hold to account the Council’s CEO and other officials. This critically important campaign has implications that go way beyond the wrongdoing of Gloucestershire County Council, going to the very heart of our democracy today. That’s why I’m enthusiastically supporting this crowdfunding campaign – and I hope that you will too.”
Jeremy Irons has also expressed his dismay at the new information about the incinerator project:
”I thought it imperative to support Community R4C back in 2015 with their plans for a healthier Recycling Plant alternative to the Javelin Park mass-burn incinerator. That misguided project has been the subject of a decade-long saga of public persistence in the face of relentless council suppression and secrecy. Whilst deeply shocking, it is perhaps unsurprising therefore to learn of this latest development. The tragedy is that the present outcome was avoidable – if council officers and leaders had done their job with integrity and followed proper procedure, Community R4C’s greener option could now have been operational in place of the Javelin Park monster. Those of us campaigning for a healthier and more economical solution always wondered whether something was rotten in the state of Gloucestershire County Council’s secretive Cabinet, and I can only hope that now this has come out, the Council as a whole can put its house in order, investigate the situation fully and see what can be salvaged and, most importantly, learned from this financial and environmental mess.”
Ms Oppenheimer explains: ”Because the council favoured one supplier above market rate, developer Urbaser Balfour Beatty may be obliged to return the difference of £150M to GCC under State Aid rules. The contract would then have to be re-examined, and at that point, open discussion about what would really benefit the county can take place. That’s what we want to see. Our aim in presenting this challenge is to help achieve a better environmental and financial outcome for the people of Gloucestershire, and ensure this awful situation doesn’t arise anywhere else.”
https://Javelinparkinquiry.org.uk (for information on Independent Inquiry)
http://www.timdavies.org.uk/category/javelin-park/ (for information on FoI case)
Community R4C’s High Court claim (Details and papers can be found here), alongside calls for an Independent Inquiry, were sparked by the release on 20th December 2018 of documents following a long FOI process (in which GCC had appealed against an ICO notice to disclose). These documents revealed the details of cost increases that had been withheld from Councillors when they were asked to vote on the project in November 2015. Documents available on the Community R4C website show the planned incinerator is very inefficient, environmentally damaging and expensive.
Community R4C Ltd is a Community Benefit Society based in Stroud, Gloucestershire registered with the FCA. Set up in 2015 to work towards a waste solution which would serve the community and protect the environment, Community R4C raised almost £100,000 in a groundbreaking Community Share Scheme to facilitate its aims and the building of an alternative waste resource recovery plant – the R4C plant – in cooperation with investors and partners. Community R4C has widespread support, both within and outside Gloucestershire including from well known campaigners for sustainability – among them Jeremy Irons and Jonathon Porritt.
The society currently seeks a commitment from the council to work closely with Community R4C to ensure that changes are made to the incinerator contract, including:
• removing the mechanism that gives incentives to recycle less and waste more;
• ensuring that third party gate fees are equal to those paid by the Council taxpayers;
• encouraging greater recycling and waste avoidance;
• pre-sorting waste to remove recyclable material;
• decommissioning or re-purposing the Incinerator as soon as it is economic to do so.