Norfolk will pay ‘over the odds’ to dispose of its waste if it builds King’s Lynn incinerator, MPs claim

At the incinerator press conference are (from left) Henry Bellingham MP, Elizabeth Truss MP and council leader Nick Daubney. Picture: Ian Burt At the incinerator press conference are (from left) Henry Bellingham MP, Elizabeth Truss MP and council leader Nick Daubney. Picture: Ian Burt

Friday, January 31, 2014
4:08 PM

In a report released this afternoon, MPs Henry Bellingham and Elizabeth Truss, and West Norfolk council leader Nick Daubney, said it would be cheaper to ship waste to Amsterdam to be burned than the proposed Saddlebow incinerator.

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They said figures they had obtained showed that the cost of disposing Norfolk’s “black bin” waste in the proposed Saddlebow plant would be £105 a tonne.

That compares with between £75 and £85 a tonne to ship it to Amsterdam, £75 a tonne to be dealt with at Peterborough’s Green Energy Parks and £55 to be recycled using the process promoted by Material Works, which has signed a contract to dispose of West Norfolk’s waste.

South West Norfolk MP Ms Truss said: “Norfolk County Council needs to be honest about the real costs of the contract and the cost to taxpayers over the next 23 years. The project is not value for money and there are better alternatives.

“What we believe to be the case is the cost of using the energy from waste plant [incinerator] they are proposing would cost between £100 and £105.

“We believe Norfolk County Council have locked us into the contract with Cory at a much higher cost than the average across the country of £78 a tonne.”

North West Norfolk MP Mr Bellingham said: “Norfolk County Council have got to explain to the public why they are determined to go ahead with this because it is not a cost effective option.”

He added West Norfolk council had signed a contract with Material Works to recycle the 35,000 tonnes of waste households in the borough produce each year.

He said the county could dispose of its waste more cheaply by having it burned in Amsterdam, while it considered alternatives.

“I don’t think this is a long-term sustainable solution but it would give Norfolk time to get alternatives in place, like Material Works,” he said.

Two weeks ago, Material Works said it had secured £100m in funding to build an anaerobic digestion plant in West Norfolk, which would turn waste into an inert plastic. But the company has not revealed where the site is or applied for planning permission.

West Norfolk council leader Nick Daubney said: “We as a nation are throwing away less waste and recycling more. Now is the time for Norfolk County Council to stop the money clock ticking, stop building this incinerator and put the whole unhappy incident to bed once and for all.”

In October, the government withdrew a £169m waste infrastructure grant. It said the incinerator was no longer needed to meet national targets for diverting waste from landfill.

But Norfolk County Council, which has voted to press ahead with the plant, claims the incinerator will still save the county more than £20m over its 25-year life span - even after the government.

David Harrison, the council’s cabinet member for the environment, transport, environment and waste, said: “We weren’t invited to today’s event, which I have no doubt was orchestrated as a distraction to Mr Pickles’s visit to Norfolk.

“But from what we understand, the audience was presented with a collection of hypothetical schemes that have not yet been properly costed and which in most cases would take years to come to fruition if at all.

“Compare this with a legally-binding contract that we know will deliver £20m in savings compared to landfill, plus it has potential of making tens of millions more from selling heat and power.”

The decision to give the incinerator planning permission 18 months ago was called in by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, triggering a lengthy public inquiry last year

Mr Pickles was due to announce his decision last month, but the date has been put back.

Bill Borrett, leader of the Conservative group on the county council and a former leader of the authority, has written to Mr Eric Pickles, warning the £26m cost of cancelling the incinerator will increase to £31m if a decision is not announced by May 1.

But Mr Pickles gave no indication when he might deliver his verdict, when asked by the EDP on a visit to Great Yarmouth this morning.

“I’ll be taking the decision and I’ll be taking it free from any political influence,” he said.

“I will judge it purely on the merits of planning as it is, as you can imagine, very complicated and very technical, and I’m making sure I understand every aspect of the technical nature of the decision I’m going to make.

“I’ll make it when I’m confident that the decision is a good one.”

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