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Palm Paper denies claims it will buy power from King’s Lynn incinerator

PUBLISHED: 09:40 17 May 2012

Palm Paper chief executive Dr Wolfgang Palm. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Palm Paper chief executive Dr Wolfgang Palm. Picture: Matthew Usher.

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The chief executive of King’s Lynn’s Palm Paper has denied a claim his company is in “advanced” talks to buy power generated by the controversial incinerator planned for the edge of the town.

Anglo-American consortium Cory Wheelabrator has claimed talks with the firm to buy steam and/or power from its proposed incinerator in Saddlebow are at an “advanced stage”. But, in a letter to anti-incinerator campaigners, Dr Wolfgang Palm has said this claim, made in public documents submitted to Norfolk County Council, titled Environmental Information and Clarification, regarding the potential environmental impact of the scheme, is incorrect.

“We have only accommodated the request for talks by Cory Wheelabrator in as much that we let them explain to us what the project looks like and what their timescale is,” he said.

“They further explained to us how much steam and power will be produced and what they would like to sell to us. They further explained to us at what price they would be able to make the steam available.

“We have listened to the presentation with interest and then ended the talks; the claims in public about ongoing talks definitely do not correspond to reality.

“I would like to assure you that there is neither an oral nor a written agreement between Palm and Cory Wheelabrator that we acquire steam or power, if necessary, from the waste incinerator should the project be completed.

“Thus the operators are in no position to consider us as a secure customer for steam and/or power. Also for the profitability analysis, as part of the project finance, they are not able to consider the sale of energy to us due to the lack of our confirmation.”

In the letter to Tilney All Saints resident Dr Martin Little, Dr Palm reiterated the firm is maintaining a “strictly neutral position” over the proposals.

Dr Palm, however, has admitted the mill could acquire steam or power from the incinerator should it be built but it is one of four possible options going forward.

Anti-incinerator campaigner Mike Knights said: “This contradiction is highly significant. This calls in to question other information used in support of the incinerator planning application.”

He added: “West Norfolk residents have already shown they have no confidence in the Willows Incinerator, it is now time for it to be called-in for an independent planning inspector to decide.”

Norfolk County Council awarded the contract to build the incinerator, known as the Willows Power and Recycling Facility, to Anglo-American consortium Cory Wheelabrator last year.

The county council says the plant is needed to prevent the county’s waste having to go to landfill. It says it will save millions of pounds a year.

Paul Green, speaking on behalf of Cory Wheelabrator, said: “The proposed Willows Power and Recycling facility has the potential to supply electricity to the National Grid and steam to neighbouring industry, which would make this plant one of the most efficient in the UK.

“We’ve held early stage discussions with Palm Paper on whether the Willows facility could supply steam to the paper mill, but at present no contract is in place.”

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has already announced the approval of £91m in PFI funding to Norfolk County Council to go towards the cost of the proposed incinerator in Saddlebow.

However West Norfolk council intends to challenge Ms Spelman’s decision to approve the PFI funding and has previously urged communities secretary Eric Pickles to call in the scheme so an independent inspector can have the final say.

The council claims Ms Spelman broke her own guidelines in awarding the money because there is not a “broad consensus of support” for the £500m incinerator. A poll carried out in West Norfolk saw 65,000 people vote against the building of the plant.

Anti-incinerator campaigners attempted to secure a judicial review into the process by which the county council agreed to award a contract to waste company Cory Wheelabrator but a High Court judge dismissed their attempt in December.

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