PRESS RELEASE: 12th August 2020


Famous film star praises CR4C ‘David vs Goliath’ environmental campaign

Local charitable foundation pledges £10,000 match fund for CR4C legal appeal

Oscar-winning actor and environmentalist Jeremy Irons has pledged his support for Community R4C’s legal campaign to recover £150 million in ‘illegal state aid’ for Gloucestershire taxpayers from Urbaser Balfour Beatty. Irons, the star of many cinema block busters, has produced a short video to promote the community group’s Crowdfunder site to raise money for legal expenses and has donated personally.

Community R4C is challenging part of a recent High Court ruling in the Preliminary Issues trial relating to the controversial Javelin Park waste incinerator contract. Last week they applied for permission to take their case to the Court of Appeal. 

They have launched the Crowdfunder site to raise funds to pay legal expenses.

Jeremy Irons is a long-standing supporter of CommunityR4C and is encouraging people to donate. In his video he says: “This is a remarkable story of a campaign against secrecy and against misuse of public funds, a David and Goliath story of concerned local citizens confronting a huge company with a toxic deal for a toxic incinerator.

“It’s also the story of a £600 million contract negotiated in secret in breach of procurement rules, kept secret for years and only forced into the open by the sheer determination of local campaigners and this court case brought by Community R4C.”

The new Crowdfunder site, launched last Friday (7th August) with support from renowned environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt, has already raised more than £6,000 and has been pledged a £10,000 match-fund by a local charitable foundation.

Community R4C (CR4C) says their case has been brought in the public interest in order to expose the breach of procurement law by Gloucestershire County Council. If this is proven in court at full trial, this would allow legal challenges by GCC itself to recover £150 million in illegal state aid from Javelin Park contractors Urbaser Balfour Beatty.

CR4C says it would also lead to other changes in the UBB contract which would incentivise rather than discourage recycling, such as a new price structure and eliminating the current requirement that GCC must pay for a large minimum tonnage each year no matter how much waste it actually sends to the incinerator. CR4C also proposes the introduction of a pre-treatment plant to recover carbon -emitting materials such as plastics and valuable recyclables such as metals rather than burning them.

Sue Oppenheimer, co-chair of Community R4C said: “Our lawyers believe there has been a critical error of law in the approach taken by the High Court. The effect of this is ultimately to deny potential bidders proper access to legal remedy in the event of breaches of procurement law through contracts being directly awarded without open, competitive tender. This is what happened to us with the secret Javelin Park second contract.

“If our appeal is eventually upheld, the impact will be nationwide. It would establish new legal precedent which will ensure more open Government tenders. Councils will no longer be so likely to dismiss community-supported, environment-protecting solutions simply to favour big business.”

The environmental group will continue to be represented by Shakespeare Martineau solicitors as well as specialist procurement law barrister, Duncan Sinclair from 39 Essex Chambers in London.  The team will be bolstered by the addition of Parishil Patel, QC, who is one of the country’s top barristers in this field. 
Community R4C say both barristers have agreed to work on the case pro bono due to the importance they attach to the outcome and because a successful appeal would have national as well as local impact.