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Protect Net Zero from shoddy procurement practices

We can’t let the drive for Net Zero become another place for secretive closed-door procurement practices. We challenged an enormous contract awarded to a suspiciously small company. After our legal action, the contract was dropped.

That’s why we launched judicial review proceedings against the East of England Broadband Network (E2BN) for their decision to, we believed, unlawfully award a £70 billion ‘Everything Net Zero’ Framework Agreement to the Place Group, a company with scant emissions reduction expertise.

This agreement offers the Place Group a way of controlling how the entire public sector, from the NHS to local government offices, would award contracts even loosely connected to ‘climate’ issues, without having to comply with the usual public procurement rules.

On the face of it, E2BN’s decisions and conduct in respect of the Everything Net Zero Framework appeared to be in breach of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. They seemed to have created a mechanism through which billions in public contracts could be awarded by the Place Group to unspecified suppliers without open, transparent and fair competition.

After E2BN refused to properly engage with our questions, we began legal proceedings. But at the end of October, in response to our legal action, E2BN pulled the multi-billion-pound framework agreement with Place Group – and, as a result, it was no longer necessary to proceed with the case.

Now, the final details of the case have been sewn up. We have received the consent order confirming that the case has been withdrawn and that E2BN will pay £10,000 of our costs.

This is a victory for transparency in the fight for Net Zero. We cannot allow the most important struggle of our time – the fight against climate catastrophe – to be exploited and encumbered with opaque deals and shady contracts.

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