Probe into Gloucester incinerator contract blunder

Artist's impression of the Javelin Park incinerator Image copyright Urbaser Balfour Beatty
Image caption The incinerator will be built on land at Javelin Park next to the M5 near Gloucester

An investigation has been launched after a council blunder revealed details of a £500m contract for a controversial incinerator project.

Plans for the project, near Gloucester, were given approval in 2015.

The Urbaser Balfour Beatty contract was released under Freedom of Information rules but parts were redacted.

However, a version released by Gloucestershire County Council contained an easy way to reveal the full unredacted details.

Campaigners are currently appealing to the Information Commissioner to have the full, unredacted contract released by the authority.

Details were removed by the council as they were deemed commercially sensitive.

In the meantime, the faulty version that was mistakenly released on the council's website has been replaced.

The incinerator project, at Javelin Park, met with fierce opposition and was only approved following a public inquiry.

It was originally refused planning permission by the county council and a bid to stop it being built, from Stroud District Council, was taken to the High Court, where it eventually failed.

The BBC is not able, for legal reasons, to say how to circumvent the redactions or reveal details of what they say.

'Remain confidential'

"An earlier version of the waste contract published on the council website could be manipulated to expose the redactions," a spokesman said.

"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.

"The council has already released over 95% of the contract, however some commercial information needs to remain confidential so we can get the best prices for taxpayers in the future."

Gerald Hartley, chair of the campaign group GlosVAIN, said the mistake was "gross incompetence" and "pretty astonishing".

The facility is expected to open in 2019.

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