Security guards in orange jackets kept the crowd outside in line, while other burly men kept a sharp eye out for any trouble inside.

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Even the police were expected to attend - just in case.

But rather than walking into a boisterous nightclub on a Saturday, this was the welcome to Norfolk County Council on incinerator decision day.

Preparations were in place just in case tensions ran high on an emotive issue.

The public gallery was packed, 70/30 in favour of the anti-incinerator campaigners, with many more who had travelled east from King’s Lynn sitting in a separate room listening to the proceedings.

Everyone present knew a big decision was forthcoming. They had seen the recommendation to approve the Cory Wheelabrator application and were 99pc sure the decision would follow suit.

But with 16 anti-incinerator campaigners receiving three minutes each, the opposing case would have its moment.

Maybe, just maybe, those in opposition could bring enough councillors onto their side.

Explanations on the burner were offered, arguments presented and questions posed by councillors from the planning committee.

Every strong point in favour of throwing out the plan was greeted with cheers inside and outside the chamber.

A smattering of applause welcomed the applicant’s view this was a thorough proposal which had to happen.

Two hours into proceedings and it was little different to the usual planning meetings, albeit a bit more detailed in talking through the proposal.

After all, the council was keen to show it was acting in a transparent manner.

Several councillors had earlier declared personal interests in the application followed by the point they were approaching this matter with an “open mind”.

But as the apparent “open minds” started to fill up with the respective arguments, it was perhaps one of the more unlikely sources that stirred the debate to life and brought to the fore the tensions at the heart of the matter.

Step forward North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham.

Several appeals had been made to give Mr Bellingham, and other objectors, more time to make their points.

Each time they were knocked back by chairman John Rogers.

But experienced parliamentarian Mr Bellingham was not to be stopped. His grounding in the Commons shone as he battled on, urging Mr Rogers to allow democracy to rule.

In fact, Mr Bellingham didn’t care if the answer was no - what he had to say was far more important.

The Arab Spring, European uprisings - lessons of these events needed to be learnt, insisted the MP.

Chairman John Rogers, in the uneviable task of managing proceedings, tried to keep things in something resembling order.

He opened the meeting with a warning members of the public would be ejected if they shouted out and interrupted.

Mid-way through the debate, one did shout out to tell Mr Rogers to be more polite.

Tensions continued to simmer, with the security guards watching on albeit not required.

But as the hours ticked by, and after a strong case had been presented by the objectors, the proceedings enjoyed a couple of stranger moments as the finish line neared.

Cory Wheelabrator and supporters took their time at the microphone.

Incinerator supporter Pauline Johnson told those gathered she believed most people who had objected didn’t really understand the technology.

She added: “Norfolk people tend to follow like sheep.”

There ensuing sounds were not quite baas and bleats from the public gallery, yet the groans suggested they did not agree.

Talks swept the chamber the meeting could continue until 8pm, with Mr Rogers insisting a decision would be made on the day.

Suddenly, and unexpectedly, the pace of the meeting changed as the councillors moved onto debating the matter.

Labour’s George Nobbs was the first to strike, proposing the decision to be deferred. He lost.

But when Mr Nobbs asked for recorded votes, things became a little more confused.

Twice, maybe three times, councillors voted on whether they should have recorded votes - no-one was quite sure what was going on.

A second bid to defer the decision soon emerged, before Conservative Barry Stone pushed for a decision.

Within minutes the inevitable decision arrived and the application was approved, although the wait will continue as communities secretary Eric Pickles makes up his mind.

More than seven hours of talking and no certainty. But it was a time in which the full force of Westminster sat alongside sheep jibes. That isn’t normal, although yesterday always promised to be far from the usual mundane planning meetings.

24 comments

  • The media campaign courtesy of Saudi oil money to try to convince the public windfarms are bad for them but incinerators are good for you is more a factor than Norfolk people behaving like sheep.This is up there with Dr Ian Gibson's claim that his electors were "in-bred".When is Cory going to claim we all have webbed-feet?

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    Peter Watson

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • I am sure Mr Pickles will be mindful of the need to support those Coalition MPs who have asked for the decision to be called in will be wanting to be returned at the next General Election. I wonder how many of the NCC councillors (who will presumably not get voted back in at least in West Norfolk) were more swayed by the potential loss of £20m to the contractor coming back to haunt them if they failed to approve the project as a personal surcharge or is there no possibility of this? One final thought given where a southerly wind will carry any pollution to (and I would bet it will happen some time) - had anyone asked what the residents of Sandringham think. Democracy at work - NCC style!

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    JB

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • On a similar note to your first comment Daisy Roots, do those people who voted in favour understand exactly what they are supporting? Or is simply a case of what they can trouser? Did you see the Cory group laughing at that very ill old chap? That’s how the people who would be running this view the health implications of this incinerator. Cllr Stone was very eager to get his hand in the air, Gt Yarmouth manage to recycle 26% of their rubbish, why hasn’t NCC done something about this first? What about the failures of the Environment Agency across the whole of the UK to regulate breaches of emissions? The failure of the HPA to carry out any meaningful research?

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    Honest John

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • 9 Men versus 9 men. Councillors versus MPs. Who is more powerful and who do the people Trust? Is Parliament supreme? Mr. Pickles thinks so, thank God.

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    tully

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • JS Quote: ''One final thought given where a southerly wind will carry any pollution to (and I would bet it will happen some time) - had anyone asked what the residents of Sandringham think. Democracy at work - NCC style!'' Well yes, I have, But then on many occasions I have to wash off the Sahara Sand from the car, along with the dust etc that is carried by the jet streams. Wherever we live, or site an incinerator is sited we are already subjected to the sum total of any wind-borne particles.

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    RUSTY

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • All I can say is let's have some real localism then-it is just a matter of scale. If people in West Norfolk oppose the incinerator and want the decision made on a Norfolk basis to be overturned because a number of people in the Lynn area don't want it, why not ask the residents of Blackborough End what they feel about the landfill tip they have had to endure for donkey's years. If a significant majority of the electorate of Blackborough End said we don't want your lorries of rubbish coming and going everyday and the gulls the tip attracts, would the people of Lynn abide by that localism and find somewhere to put their rubbish in another steaming heap? Just a matter of scale.

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    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • Some action urgently needs to be taken over the whole conduct of the planning committee meeting, from the behaviour of the chairman to the inadequate audio system and from the aggressive attitude of the unnecessary security team to the general unfairness in which the speaking rules were applied. (If you have any doubt, read today's Lynn News.) This must never be allowed to happen again.

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    Nemesis

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Norfolk County Council has Democratic services. So you get a mail shot from Cory Wheelabrator promoting an incinerator. County Councillors on television and the media promoting incineration. The first port of call is your County Councillor as the County has promoted this technology so to get help and put our minds at rest as they are the experts. The first hurdle is my County Councillor is in favour and also leader of the County Council. The public were disadvantaged from day one. This is why the Borough had to represent the residents of West Norfolk. This is the stage where the County should have requested the planning committee hand over the responsibility to another authority. Talking about sheep on Friday, I counted nine as some members of the planning team did not understand or grasp parts of the application but were forced into voting. The problem is NCC is the judge jury and hangman.

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    Knee deep In Toxic ash

    Monday, July 2, 2012

  • Mr Knee Deep. There was a vow of silence from all West Norfolk County Councillors as they had to tow the party line. They will pay the penalty for their inaction next year at the County elections. The problem was this planning application was so complex I expect none would want to be questioned by Joe public.

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    CleanAirPlease

    Monday, July 2, 2012

  • That's a very offensive comment from Pauline Johnson but she may be right about whether everyone who has joined the debate is able to understand exactly what they are objecting to. As for Bellingham- NCC is the elected body to represent all of Norfolk and has made a decision about a service to serve all of Norfolk.Saying this is not a democratic decision because it has not fallen in with the wishes of Daubney's self interested rabble rousing or with apparent opinion on Bellingham's home patch is not quite right.The alternative would have to be no county council and district councils only so that decisions like this are made locally, then how far do you take it? A referendum on any and every bit of major spending or controversial project? Throughout this fiasco John Martin and others have made valid points about the failings of the procedures and consultations. But I suspect that if the proposed site for this incinerator had been elsewhere in Norfolk, West Norfolk district council would not have raised much of an objection, they would be glad to solve their landfill refuse disposal problem.

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    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • Think you could be wandering down a bit of a blind alley with the comment about Blackborough End, D.R... Everyone acknowledges that we as a community cannot continue to bury our waste and have to do something else to deal with it but this type of incineration is the wrong way to go. Did you know that one of the plans shows Blackborough End as a possible recipient for another incinerator in the future? I wonder what the local residents would have to say about that instead?

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    User Removed

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • Why oh why oh why oh why are there still people like Daisy Roots who think that it is a choice between incineration and landfill. Will you all please wake up and realise that landfill is nasty, incineration is nasty and there are other technologies around that are way better, cleaner, cheaper, greener. Unless you have a particular interest in burning stuff before you dump it in landfill instead of making it into something useful. And how about recycling before landfill and incineration. This county council are as lazy as a bunch of three toed sloths when it comes to recycling. Just look at the far higher rates in neighbouring counties. If they actually did their job properly and increased the recycling rates, used an autoclave to plasticise the rest of the waste then you have no nasty incineration, lots of useful goods and high rates of recycling. But I suppose that is too much to ask some people to understand. And if you still want to set fire to things because you are an ancient dinosaur who can't move forward then send your rubbish to Sweden or Holland where they were daft enough to build incinerators that are now crying out for stuff to burn because there isn't enough and they are running at a fraction of their capacity. Why build another one anywhere? That's dimwitted.

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    alecto

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • It was fortunate BBC Radio Norfolk and the papers were witnessing this. We all know Eric Pickles was cosy with County Hall on his visit to Norfolk. This was after Cllr Murphy paid MP Eric Pickles a visit. This was why the contract was signed as nod and wink to Caroline Spelman to change her mind on PFI funding. Defra has selective hearing. Problems have arisen since then. Cory Wheelabrators planning application was scrutinised and many anomalies. From wrong Flood zone 1 to 3! To no customers for Ash and Energy. Centrica have objected to the burner as it will damage their proposed power plant. The list is endless. I am sure if the incinerator gets built will see the end of Tory domination in West Norfolk. MP Bellingham has been insulted by County Hall and all nine MPs rejected the incinerator will send messages to the top at Westminster and County elections due not many months away! The planning committee said that if Eric Pickles does not call in the planning application the incinerator gets built. Surely there will then be an appeals procedure and it will take years to settle.

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    Alan Allan

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • .....and after a strong case had been presented by the objectors.....subjective.

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    Rhombus

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • Rusty, I had assumed most people would realise the comment about Sandringham was a rhetorical one. I'm afraid I do not see the connection between the potentially very dangerous and man-made pollution of an incinerator (or acid rain - remember that?) and the natural atmospheric pollution that we can do nothing about. I also need to wash my car for bird droppings and mud on the road - but I don't see either them or Saharan dust as being a problem with the way that our "servants" on the NCC (elected and officers) take their undemocratic decisions. The incinerator is! By the way I do not live in West Norfolk so I have so specific "axe to grind" re Saddlebow - I do for the need for truly democratic decison making.

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    JB

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • Ewe are not a very nice person Ms Johnson. The sheep are the ones following the incinerator not the brave ones putting up with vile insults from the likes of you to defend their land.

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    alecto

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • I rather think Pauline Johnson is missing the point. If the people of West Norfolk were sheep they would be supporting the Incinerator would they not? It takes brains and guts to work out what an appalling and dangerous technology this is and those brave people standing up for their families and neighbours are the campaigners and the ones supporting Cory Wheelabrator are the sheep, like ewe Ms Johnson.

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    alecto

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • Oops typo ,and for NCC's next folly RAF Coltishall

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    Sherbert

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • And foe NCC's next folly RAF Coltishall

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    Sherbert

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • I suspect when the representations were made, that we had spent hours researching and writing, NCC staff just looked to see what category the objection fell under, ticked the appropriate box, and considered it mitigated. Many highly technical detailed material considerations were raised and totally ignored. Lets hope that Karen Rose NPCU will look more carefully at all representations and concerns raised directly with her, over the last year, by those of us that did not trust NCC to do their job properly!

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    Joy, King's Lynn

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • County Hall plus Grounds dwarves many a European Ministry. Sale and relocation to an Industrial Estate would cut Council Tax and provide jobs in a poorer area, say the Willows?

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    tully

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • What may come out of this? If MP Erick Pickles calls in and the incinerator and rejects it there will be a few options open. After yesterday’s planning decision NCC will be looking for alternative sites. They may have thought if they vote in favour there is little or no chance the incinerator will end up polluting County Halls doorstep. What they have done is voted for incinerators anywhere in Norfolk. The other part is this planning decision has been aired in the media and next County elections County Hall will have quite a few fatalities due to the arrogance of some party members. When you have a planning application you have the opportunity to consult your County Councillor. The population of West Norfolk were denied this luxury as most County Councillors had been involved in the procurement of the incinerator. On the last County election none had mentioned anything about an incinerator but they had known 2006. The problems stems that if you do not tow the party line you will lose benefits that go with the job. The Conservative group on the planning committee had no option but to vote in favour.

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    Gobsmacked

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

  • The residents of Sandringham are not allowed to make a public comment on this. I believe the point being made was that it is not just those who are next door to an incinerator who are victims of the pollution from incinerators, but it can be carried for many hundreds of miles depending on the wind. Those in the east of the county with their heads in the sand thinking they’ll be ok, will simply find their back sides with a nice toxic covering. The cost of this proposal will hit every taxpayer in the county, there are endless reasons why this is wrong, not just for Saddlebow but the county and the UK.

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    Honest John

    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. I suspect Pauline Johnson with her Sheep jibe did not include County Councilors that look after their own interests before the public. As mentioned many times they have to tow the party line or lose valuable financial benefits that go with this position.

    Report this comment

    Scrutiny

    Monday, July 2, 2012

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

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