A community group has lost a legal challenge against Gloucestershire County Council over a £600million waste incinerator contract.
Community R4C claimed a new contract for the Javelin Park facility in Gloucester, near junction 12 of the M5, was awarded unlawfully to its operator UBB four years ago.
The county council has always denied this and said it ran a competitive process within the law.
On Friday, the High Court decided that Community R4C, which had been working on a cheaper, greener waste processing plant, would not have qualified to bid for the new contract in 2016 as it was not an “economic operator”.
The group said it disputes Judge Russen QC’s decision that it is not an “economic operator” and it is considering whether to appeal.
The county council said the court case was a “huge waste of everyone’s time and public money”.
Councillor Nigel Moor, cabinet member with responsibility for Gloucestershire’s waste services, said: “I am really pleased CR4C’s claim has been thrown out by the High Court, as we expected.
“The judge clearly states that CR4C did not have the financial standing or proven track record to bid for large scale projects, and rules that, as they did not exist at the relevant time, their case cannot proceed.
“We said this months ago – this has been a huge waste of everyone’s time and public money.
“Javelin Park continues to work well – it has stopped household rubbish going to landfill, cut Gloucestershire’s CO2 levels by 40,000 tonnes a year and generates electricity to power thousands of homes.
“As a public organisation, we welcome challenge and scrutiny of our processes and decisions. However, we will always take the necessary steps to make sure the council achieves the best possible deal on behalf of the people of Gloucestershire.”
The county council revealed in December 2018 the project’s cost had risen from £500m to £633m.
The authority signed a contract with Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) for the scheme in 2013.
In 2018 it was told it must reveal some parts of a previously redacted report, released under Freedom of Information rules, which the authority had said was “commercially sensitive”.
It released the details on December 21, revealing it will cost £112 per tonne to burn the waste, which it said represented “value for money”.
When the plans were first proposed, the council said the incinerator would save local taxpayers £100m over 25 years and power 25,000 homes.