By DAVID BLACKMORE
Monday, September 10, 2012
A public inquiry into plans to build a controversial incinerator on the edge of King’s Lynn must be held close to the proposed site, the chief executive of West Norfolk Council said today.
A spokesman for Communities Secretary Eric Pickles’ department has said the inquiry will be held in Norfolk but the borough council has written to the Planning Inspectorate asking for the inquiry to held close to the Saddlebow site.
West Norfolk Council’s chief executive Ray Harding said: “Norfolk is a huge county and travelling can be difficult for many people.
“In a car the journey takes about an hour. There is no direct train link from King’s Lynn to Norwich and public transport is very limited.”
He continued: “We think it is really important that this inquiry is held near to the site in question and that the venue is accessible by all.
“We know that there are large numbers of people interested in this case in this area and they should be offered easy access to the inquiry, not faced with the barrier of distance.”
The secretary of state called in the planning application after his department received nearly 6,000 letters which is one of the most ever received for an application.
Both the county council and anti-incinerator campaigners welcomed the decision by Mr Pickles on Thursday to have a public inquiry, which could cost up to £1m, and are now working hard on their cases to present to the Planning Inspectorate.
Graham Plant, the council’s cabinet member for planning and transportation, has said: “We are confident the application meets all planning policy requirements, the recommendation made by our planners was correct and the decision taken by the planning committee was the right one, given national and local planning guidelines
“As people will be aware, we made it clear in a letter to Mr Pickles as far back as March 2011 that the county council would provide every assistance should he decide to call in the application, and of course, we will now be glad to do so.”
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.
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.
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.