A COURT case looking into the controversial contract for the Javelin Park incinerator opened today.

A community group has brought Gloucestershire County Council to court to address concerns over the way in which the contract for the £633m incinerator was handled.

Community R4C believes the contract for the Javelin Park facility in Gloucester, near junction 12 of the M5, was unlawfully awarded to consortium Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB).

The group claims Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) illegally handled the re-negotiation of the incinerator contract in 2016.

And it said it now wants £150m returned to taxpayer.

The hearing opened at Bristol High Court this morning (Friday, June 7).

If the group is successful, it will be able to pursue the case for between £75 million and £150 million being returned to GCC by UBB.

The original contract was awarded by GCC to UBB in 2013 but time delays caused by the extended planning process led to its expiration.

A spokesman for CR4C said: "GCC re-negotiated the contract with UBB in 2016 resulting in a £150 million increase in the cost of the original contract.

"This was done in secret with no opportunity for other companies to tender for the contract.

"The awarding of the contract without competitive tendering breaches procurement law, and is also illegal according to State Aid rules.

"This secrecy also highlights how the plant fails to fulfil legal obligations to pursue the ‘waste hierarchy’ as set out in the Waste Regulations Act 2011."

The group said it had been working on an alternative waste processing plant and "would have bid for the contract".

CR4C’s board member, Tom Jarman, said: “We have every right to demand that the illegal subsidy committed to UBB is returned to the county’s taxpayers and that we can move towards waste treatment which is sustainable and economic.

"CR4C has set out the framework for this and again invites the council to enter into discussion with us to work together to these ends.”

CR4C member Sue Oppenheimer, said: “They should have gone out to tender and it seems that by not doing so, it was a very deliberate attempt to exclude our bid for a community-supported recycling plant.

"It is tragic that our county council missed this opportunity to save local taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds and to preserve our environment.”

A spokesperson for GCC said: “We carried out a thorough and compliant process when appointing and negotiating with UBB and as a result we cannot let the claims made against us go unchallenged.

"We are confident the legal process will conclude the claim is groundless.

“This hearing is a case and cost management conference.”