Campaigners wanting to see if an incinerator under construction near Stonehouse is good value for money must now wait for the result of a legal battle.

Gloucestershire County Council is appealing a ruling from last month that ordered it to disclose parts of a report on the costs of a waste incinerator being built by Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) at Javelin Park off of the M5.

Produced by accountancy firm E&Y for the council, the affordability report contains financial information like how much profit the incinerator will make from generating electricity when work finishes in 2019.

Tim Davies, an open data activist and member of Stroud’s Green party, made a Freedom of Information request to the council for the report in March 2017, but later that year asked the Information Commissioner to review the case when the council released a redacted version.

The ICO then ordered to GCC to release more of the report on June 7 2018, giving the council 35 days to comply or 28 days to make a challenge.

Fearing that publishing the facts while it is still negotiating contracts will make it harder to get good deals, the council is now appealing the order.

“The contract information which hasn’t been shared so far is about the costs and assumptions that have been used to work out the value for money of the energy from waste facility,” said county councillor Nigel Moor, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure.

“We accept that people are interested in these contract details but if we share them at this time it will significantly prejudice the commercial interests of the council, local taxpayers and UBB.”

“As contracts are currently being negotiated we cannot put information into the public domain that would weaken our hand.

“For example for the sale of electricity a reduction of just £5 in what we can achieve per unit of electricity could see us lose out to the tune of £14 million over the 25 year contract - money we want to invest in essential council services.”

Mr Davies, who was notified of the appeal by the ICO, maintains getting the report - and its financial facts - out in the open is in the public interest.

“As a Gloucestershire resident who is going to pay for this contract, I want to see what has been agreed in my name,” he said in a statement released by the Stroud District Green Party.

“I want to see what value for money is being provided. It should not be a matter of trust it, should be a matter of fact.”

Other campaigners suggest GCC’s appeal is unsurprising, pointing to previous court outings between the council and opponents of the incinerator.

"GCC's cabinet and senior officers have pursued a relentless policy of evading scrutiny of the Stonehouse mass-burn incinerator,” said Jojo Mehta of Cancel the Contract, a group of activists who recently organised a hunger strike in Gloucester against the incinerator.

“It's the biggest public contract GCC has ever signed, pushed through against massive public objection and against GCC's own planning refusal.

“They're shockingly willing - yet again - to spend vast sums of public money delaying disclosure in any way possible.

"When elected officials behave in this appalling way, disrespecting the public and the law, we have a duty to ask what is going on.

“Who benefits? Certainly not the thousands of children who will be breathing in particulate pollution from this monster paid for by their parents' taxes."

But GCC argues the cost to taxpayers of a weakened negotiating position trumps any legal fees.

“The amount of local taxpayers’ money that could be put at risk runs into the tens of millions - that’s why we’ve spent a few thousand pounds defending the ICO ruling for what we believe are the best interests of Gloucestershire people,” cllr Moor also said.