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Council earmarks £13m as dispute over waste plant rumbles on

Essex County Council has earmarked £13m for possible litigation over a mechanical biological treatment waste plant.

Its cabinet agreed to use money from the waste reserve as necessary “to resource the resolution of a dispute (including the referring of the dispute to litigation)”.

Essex has been engaged in a long dispute over the Basildon plant with UBB Waste Essex, which was jointly owned by waste firm Urbaser and construction firm Balfour Beatty.

The High Court in June 2020 found Essex was entitled to exit the 25-year contract, and awarded the county more than £10m in damages.

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Essex argued the plant had been wrongly designed and Mr Justice Pepperall found it had been built with some calculations done “on the back of the proverbial fag pack”.

Following this UBB Waste Essex entered administrative receivership since its owners considered it insolvent.

Essex has denied suggestions in the local media that it still pays for the plant’s upkeep.

An Essex spokesperson said: “Essex County Council is not paying any monies to UBB to maintain the facility in Basildon. The facility is owned and maintained by UBB. 

“In June 2020, UBB requested that Essex ceased deliveries of waste to the facility. Prior to this date, Essex made payments to UBB for waste delivered to the facility for processing.

“As there has been no waste delivered to the facility since June 2020, there have been no payments from ECC to UBB since then.”

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