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High Court judge dismisses King’s Lynn incinerator judicial review bid

PUBLISHED: 16:21 17 July 2012 | UPDATED: 18:19 17 July 2012

The proposed incinerator site at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt.

The proposed incinerator site at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt.

Archant © 2010

A High Court judge has rejected an attempt by West Norfolk Council to force a legal challenge over the proposed incinerator at King’s Lynn.

West Norfolk Council had hoped to secure a judicial review into the decision by environment secretary Caroline Spelman to award £91m in PFI credits to go towards the cost of the Willows Power and Recycling Plant, which would be run by Anglo-US consortium Cory Wheelabrator.

Norfolk County Council says the Saddlebow plant, which its planning committee last month granted permission for, is needed to deal with the county’s waste. But, in a poll organised by West Norfolk Council, 65,000 people voted against it and the borough council sought a judicial review over the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ decision to award the waste credits.

However, Mr Justice Eady has announced that he has refused permission for that judicial review.

He stated: “There is no arguable case on irrationality or illegality. The claimant’s case goes essentially to the merits of the decision which was reached after a long and detailed consideration of all relevant factors.”

The borough council had questioned how Ms Spelman had been convinced, after seeking extra information from Norfolk councils that there was a “broad consensus” of support for the Norfolk Waste Partnership.

But Mr Justice Eady said: “The argument...appears to be based on a misreading of ‘broad consensus’ as though it connoted unanimity.”

He said the borough council must pay DEFRA’s costs, to be decided by the courts, if not agreed by the parties involved.

Although the county council’s planning committee agreed to grant permission for the plant, communities secretary Eric Pickles prevented the authority from issuing a decision notice.

He told the county council that he wants more time to consider whether to call in their decision. If he does, that would mean a planning inspector would look at the issue through a public inquiry.

See tomorrow’s EDP for more on this story.

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