County councillors have agreed to grant planning permission for an incinerator on the edge of King’s Lynn, following a marathon meeting which lasted more than seven hours.

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Feelings ran high at yesterday’s meeting, with campaigners questioning the figures which had been used to justify the plant, while one of the companies behind the plant was forced to defend its record in the United States.

Concerns were also raised about whether the emissions from the proposed Willows Power and Recycling Plant at Saddlebow would be harmful to health, what sort of monitoring would be carried out and the impact of flooding on the plant.

Before the debate got under way, virtually all members of Norfolk County Council’s planning committee declared interests, with the scheme, which could cater for up to 270,000 tonnes of waste a year, having already been discussed at various parish, town, district and county council meetings.

The council’s cabinet agreed in March last year to award a contract to Anglo-US consortium Cory Wheelabrator and a £20m breakage clause exists with the companies behind the plant should it not go ahead.

And environment secretary Caroline Spelman has agreed to hand over £91m in waste credits so the company can deal with 170,000 tonnes of the county council’s waste for the next 25 years.

But members of the planning committee stressed they were approaching the 570-plus report with an “open mind”, with officers reminding them that their decision was to be based on planning policy.

Prior to the meeting, campaigners against the plant had criticised the lack of time given to them to speak, although the authority said it was in excess of the usual time. And the first speaker, North West Norfolk Conservative MP Henry Bellingham, who has long campaigned against the incinerator quickly clashed with chairman John Rogers, after he went over his allotted time.

Mr Bellingham urged councillors to “stand up for democracy” by not allowing the incinerator to be built.

Going over his three minutes of allotted time Mr Bellingham said the council needed to live up to its At Your Service motto and reject Cory Wheelabrator’s proposals.

Clashing with Mr Rogers, the MP said he would not be stifled. He said: “One of the lessons of the Arab Spring and events in Europe such as Greece is that you defy democracy at your peril.

“What will happen is that people will lose trust in you. I ask you today to stand up for democracy.”

He said ignoring West Norfolk Council’s referendum, which saw 65,000 people vote against incineration, went against the spirit of the Localism Act and the Big Society.

Other campaigners who spoke included environmental consultant Richard Burton, who presented figures from Norfolk’s landfill sites which showed the reduced carbon footprint which officers said would be created by the incinerator were not as high as the report stated.

He said the officer’s report relied on Dutch figures to estimate the carbon footprint of the incinerator compared to landfill, when figures he obtained from Norfolk revealed the amount of methane produced in Norfolk’s landfill sites was not as high, so the ‘benefits’ of switching to incineration would not be as great.

Mr Burton said, despite him submitting that data, officers had not included it in their report, so members of the committee did not have the best available data to use when making their decision.

Sixteen-year-old Jonah Oliver queried the sense of building in a flood zone and said other countries were turning away from incineration, while Mike Knights, a long-standing campaigner against the scheme, highlighted issues with Wheelabrator plants in the United States, where the company had to pay out millions of dollars in a lawsuit after pollution accusations.

West Norfolk Borough Council planning committee chairman Vivienne Spikings criticised the lack of West Norfolk representatives on the planning committee and said confidence in the process had been eroded.

Planning officers from West Norfolk Council said the application should be turned down for being contrary to planning policy.

That prompted planning committee member Barry Stone, who represents Lothingland, to mention that West Norfolk Council had approved an incinerator at Palm Paper, next to the Saddlebow site, to which Mrs Spikings retorted that plant was not lumbering the taxpayer with a 20-plus year contract.

Representatives from parish councils including Wiggenhall St Germans Parish Council, Leziate and North Runction, all made their objections clear, while King’s Lynn GP Dr Pallavi Devulapalli said: “I think there is significant risk to health”.

The company which wants to build the incinerator said it was the best possible site for such a plant in Norfolk and said the monitoring of emissions would meet recognised standards.

Cory Wheelabrator also responded to criticism of Wheelabrator-run plants in the United States by saying they adhered to high safety and environmental standards and had never had a permit revoked.

They said a multi-million dollar settlement which the company did reach after a lawsuit alleging pollution at three of their 17 plants in the US was made to avoid getting entangled in years of litigation.

Richard Wilkinson, for Cory Environmental, said the Saddlebow site was the best possible site for such a plant in Norfolk.

And he hit out at “misinformation or misrepresentation” over national planning policy - seemingly a swipe at West Norfolk Council’s claim the application went against planning policy.

In response to a question from Labour group leader George Nobbs, Cory Environmental’s planning director John Bolden also said the £20m breakage clause, potentially payable by the council if the scheme fails, was not unique to Norfolk and was standard practice.

Members of the committee put forward two proposals to defer the decision, saying they did not currently have enough information to decide, but they were both lost.

Just before 5.30pm, the committee accepted officers’ recommendations that planning permission should be granted. The committee voted nine in favour, four against and with two abstentions.

dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

13 comments

  • Have I got this right? The County purchased the land for the incinerator. Some of the planning committee had declared interests in this planning application. They voted in favour! The mind boggles. This decision should be classed as null and void.

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    Choice

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • I’m amazed these people are still spouting ‘open minded,’ they must think people actually believe them. The only thing that has been transparent all along has been the outcome of yesterday. Congratulations go to the four people who had the integrity to vote against this proposal.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • I agree entirely with the open letter to Bellingham and his many critics. He is a master of appearing to do so much when in fact he does so little. Anyone that has ever turned to him for help will attest that he is best described as an 'Artful Dodger'. He always uses terms and sentences that suggest he 'may' act when in fact he has no intention. The single exception in this mans entire career was when a project to build wind turbines threatened his house value. All of a sudden the entire project vanished. In my opinion this man is a complete waste of tax payers money and if ever anyone deserved to be put out of office it is this man. In all the years in office he has done absolutely NOTHING of any note except give the impression of being busy and appearing in as many places as possible (with as much publicity as possible) in order to ensure his popularity ratings. He fools no one except the fools.

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    Dickens

    Monday, July 2, 2012

  • Thanks for the pictures EDP. Now we know who not to vote for next year. John Ward is in an especially vulnerable position as he was chucked off Broadland Council at the last District Elections. Truly a turkey voting for Christmas. No-one who knew the science behind this could possibly have voted for it on a professional basis so their reasons for their votes will live on in infamy and we will not forget their names.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • Councillor Murphy had created the conditions to put his Councillors in the firing line to gain support for the incinerator at any cost since he realised there was significant opposition. He made sure he was in the media and his objective to rattle opponents. This was apparent at other stage managed meetings. What County Hall has done is hire a security company and waste police time and money. No significant evidence was available to prove any Councillor had been intimidated as they had not reported any incident to the police. This needs investigating. One other point is it has been in the media about Cllr Murphy leading democracy in the Turks and Caicos Islands. His second home to gain another Norfolk. The Conservatives on the planning committee would be influenced by this as one of their colleagues is under fire. At the very most this planning meeting should have been taken by a Council outside Norfolk or just called in. One other nasty surprise is NCC has sent MP Erick Pickles selective information that favours incineration and missed out vital evidence.

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    Choice

    Sunday, July 1, 2012

  • What these tory blue ties councillors have done is they have voted for a future waste incinerator in their own ward. VOTE THEM OUT

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    Jack

    Sunday, July 1, 2012

  • Our god-daughter has recently had another baby one is 15 months the other is 3 months old,her brother has just completed 5 tours in Iraq, and Afghanistan.and the soldier from King’s Lynn who lost both legs and 7 other amputees who took just seven days to cycle 3000 miles across the U.S, to raise money for Help the Heroes.The government spends millions on preaching to other countries to become a democracy but NCC completely ignored the democratic vote of the 65,516 people of West Norfolk.It is a pity they don't practice what they preach.Why do them boys and girls of the armed forces sacrifice their lives for this country when NCC is hell-bent on building this incinerator at any cost, and subjecting thier familes to a 25 year Health Hazard for our elderly and children and Wildlife There is about 25 schools across the board from :nursery,infants,junior,comprehensive, college within 3 miles downwind PS I bear no malice,I hope those councillers on the planning commitee who voted for the incinerator do not have to bear the pain and stress the people of King's Lynn & West Norfolk are going through,especially those who are pregnent,and young children,elderly and all those of ill health

    Report this comment

    LFB

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • Yes it was a done deal as the County is at war with the public, Kings Lynn Borough Council and all Norfolk’s MPs. The decision should have been taken out of the Counties hands as this decision cannot be legal. I expect if the decision went the other way Cory Wheelabrator would have their legal team waiting on County Hall steps first thing Monday morning. I wonder why County Hall show favour to a company with a history polluting. The answer is they have got in too deep and should have found this information out on the fact finding mission to Cory Wheelabrator Boston. How come the public can find out but not NCC.

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    Alan Allan

    Friday, July 6, 2012

  • Dickens - what a load of rubbish. Henry Bellingham is an excellent constituency MP. In the past I have contacted him regarding issues and he dealt with them promptly and courteously. Other people I have also spoken too, from across the political divide, have also said that whilst they may not vote for him he has fought their corner tirelessly and they are most grateful. Get your facts straight - from someone who is not a fool!

    Report this comment

    smithrob

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • The incinerator had to get the go ahead because the ruling Tory Group had been put in a situation that they could not get out of. They are under pressure as they have to tow the party line or lose valuable financial benefits to themselves and also as we seen services reduced services to their own community. What they do not understand is they are now personally liable to prosecution not if but when a disaster happens. Everybody must show duty of care and they have ignored significant evidence that will have a devastating impact on the community and surrounding businesses. Valuable information that is on the planning consultation web site that planners ignored must be passed on to the Environmental agency as this is now closed to the public. What Councillors will say when a disaster happens is they only acted on information received? The list goes on of significant anomalies and the HSE will prosecute for ignoring warnings even Councillors and planners are not exempt. We all know even if the incinerator was going to be built in a school play ground this planning application was a done deal no matter what the situation.

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    Knee deep In Toxic ash

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Swit swoo, nice picture! Residents all over Norfolk will be as jealous as anything when I say that I had the honour of having to listen to this set of stunners talk rubbish yesterday. (Although people in the west wont recognise any of them as they all live far, far away from Kings Lynn.....)

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    User Removed

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • Do our County Council representatives not read planning applications? Centrica have graves concerns about fugitive dust from IBA emissions and potential impact on cooling condensers. Assume this is true then the incinerator will have to close down! Dr Palm has said he denies claims he will buy power from the incinerator. If NCC know different this should be made available to the public before voting.

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    Scrutiny

    Monday, July 2, 2012

  • There as an old adage that says you can promote people to their level of incompitence. Seems about right with this planning committee!

    Report this comment

    smithrob

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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