CAMPAIGNERS opposed to the £500 million waste incinerator planned for Javelin Park near Stroud have won a long-running battle to obtain the full details of the contract.
Campaign group GlosVAIN and others have been trying to access the financial details held within the contract between Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) and contractor Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) since 2013.
A request for the full incinerator contract and business case was made to the council under Freedom of Information (FOI) rules in January 2015.
Now, following a ruling by the government’s information commissioner, the council is required by law to disclose the information.
This is expected to include key financial details in the contract and business case, as well as key dates for the creation of the controversial facility.
Council leaders have been given a month to disclose all the information or face the possibility of being in contempt of court.
Campaigners are expecting the crucial information by November 12.
Haresfield resident, Cos Ttofa, whose FOI request yielded the ICO decision, commented on the outcome.
“The ICO ruling is great news,” he said.
“Once the council release the information, we the public will finally get to see the full facts relating to this incinerator. It has been a long waiting game.
“The public have every right to know how vast amounts of their money is planned to be spent.”
Sue Oppenheimer, chairwoman of GlosVAIN, the main group opposing the incinerator, said: “We should soon know whether or not the council’s claims of value for money from the incinerator and large contract cancellation costs are all hot air.
“We suspect that the information will support GlosVAIN’s assertion that the incinerator is a dreadful financial deal for Gloucestershire taxpayers.
“The council’s obsessive secrecy has always made us suspect that they have something to hide and are seeking to cover up poor financial decision making, by delaying release of this information for as long as they possibly could.”
Sarah Lunnon, a Green county councillor (Stroud Central) who opposes the incinerator, said: "This decision has been a long time coming, I hope GCC now accepts as the bill payers we have a right to see what we are buying and under what conditions.
“We can now see if the cost is too high and then have the right and the duty to cancel the contract to protect our countryside and instead fund high quality re-use and recycling.”
But GCC said it would appeal to a tribunal about the order because releasing commercially sensitive information could have implications for councils up and down the country.
Responding to the decision, Cllr Ray Theodoulou, deputy leader of GCC, said: “The Information Commissioner’s decision is clear. He recognises that the information in question is confidential and commercial, which is welcome.
“He also decided that the council did not provide sufficient information on the impacts of releasing the information.
“It is our intention to provide that additional information to the Information Tribunal, and to ask them to look again at this independently.
“If companies that bid for councils services know that their pricing, or their methods of operating, are going to be revealed to their competitors, taxpayers are going to have a very significant cost to bear. This is an important point, with serious consequences for all councils in Britain, which needs further independent examination.
“We’ve published as much information as we legally can about the contract – with over 95 per cent already on our website.”