Campaigners celebrate after David vs Goliath battle against incinerator

Anti-Incinerator campaigners (L) Mike Knights and Michael de Whalley. Picture: Ian Burt Anti-Incinerator campaigners (L) Mike Knights and Michael de Whalley. Picture: Ian Burt

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
8:57 AM

They were lost for words when the news they’d spent four years wishing for broke – the two Davids who’d battled to bring down Goliath.

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The sun sets over Saddlebow, near the site of King's Lynn Incinerator. Picture: Matthew Usher.The sun sets over Saddlebow, near the site of King's Lynn Incinerator. Picture: Matthew Usher.

“It’s been four years of nightmare,” said IT consultant Michael de Whalley, one of the founders of KLWIN (King’s Lynn Without Incineration).

“It’s always been an insane decision but for them to realise it after four years, it beggars belief. It’s taken so much effort for a community to have its voice heard – especially after that poll.”

Fellow campaigner Mike Knights has spent countless nights at his kitchen table writing emails and letters until the early hours.

“I’m delighted,” he said. “At last. Instead of being tied to the most expensive waste incinerator in Britain we can now save a fortune on waste treatment and protect our health and environment.”

What are the other options?

In 2012-13, Norfolk councils dealt with 391,000 tonnes of waste, of which 210,000 tonnes were sent to either landfill or energy from waste.

The report councillors will consider next Monday says efforts to deal with waste are likely to focus on “solutions based on landfill in Norfolk and treatment facilities in the region”.

They include an energy from waste plant in Great Blakenham, Suffolk, and treatment facilities further afield in the south of England, the Midlands and exports to the Netherlands or Germany.

The council is already sending 40,000 tonnes a year to landfill in Kent.

When asked whether the long-term solution could involve an incinerator, Mr Nobbs said: “We have just got out of the frying pan and I do not intend to get into the fire.

“The contract was not thought out, the long-term implications were not thought through and I do not want to repeat that again.

“Whatever happens, it has to be well-founded and based on all available evidence. We need to take a long, hard look at the future of Norfolk’s waste.

“The people of Norfolk would not want anything else.”

Speaking yesterday, council officers said the council had been exploring other ways of dealing with waste because the incinerator would not have come online for two years anyway but, asked about the long-term solution, they said: “That will have to be determined.”

Norfolk County Council kept plans quiet to start with. All they said was that a new recycling facility would be built at Saddlebow, on the outskirts of King’s Lynn near the speedway track, the tidal river and Relief Channel.

“It was meant to take us by surprise by calling it a fluffy name like a power and recycling centre,” said Mr Knights, a 48-year-old fruit farmer from Middleton, a couple of miles downwind of the proposed incinerator site.

“You can call it a fluffy name and by the time most people realise what they’re stuck with, it’s got planning permission and they’re half way through building it. I think we found out about it a year before we were meant to.”

Over in King’s Lynn, West Norfolk council started circling the wagons as an incinerator emerged as the preferred technology for the site, in March 2011.

It agreed to set aside a £200,000 war chest for legal advice and commissioned a poll of the borough’s 110,000 or so inhabitants.

More than 65,000 people – some 92pc of those taking part – said they did not want the incinerator. But the county council voted to push ahead with awarding the contract to Cory Wheelabrator.

The opposition grew louder the more county councillors ignored it, with angry protests as planning permission was awarded.

But even as the decision was announced, the government – which extolled the virtues of localism – struck what turned out to be the fatal blow when it called in the papers.

More than a year after a lengthy public inquiry, communities secretary Eric Pickles has yet to announce his decision.

In the end it was his delay which torpedoed the incinerator. It ran out of time.

West Norfolk council leader Nick Daubney said: “I am delighted.

“The incinerator was unneeded, unwanted and made no financial sense. We did a poll where 65,000 people said ‘no’ to the incinerator yet they flew in the face of the public which was arrogant. I think the politicians who have been promoting the incinerator should consider their positions.

“I very much hope that this is the end of it all. It’s very good news, I think it gives us an opportunity to come up with a joint and agreed solution for the waste in West Norfolk, and I am keen to be a part of that.”

County councillor Alexandra Kemp, whose ward sits adjacent to the site, leads the two-strong independent group on the county council.

“We’re very pleased with what the officers have recommended,” she said. “We’re hoping people will pull together and vote for King’s Lynn.

“Available green alternatives could halve the cost and save Norfolk taxpayers and people reliant on services £250m over 25 years.

“That’s before you consider that King’s Lynn deserves to have this threat hanging over it taken away once and for all.

“There was a campaign in Norwich against an incinerator at Costessey. They must have thought: ‘Ooh, King’s Lynn – we’ll put it there’.”

Common sense at last? What do you think of the latest twist in this long-running saga? E-mail newsdesk@archant.co.uk

29 comments

  • Well done Kings Lynn Borough Council, perhaps NCC should take a leaf out of your book

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Call me a nimby by all means, I am not but the label is meaningless and obviously you cant come to terms with the fact that Norfolk County Council let the people they are supposed to provide for down in an unbelievable way. Read the full officer reports to both full council and cabinet and you can do nothing but be shocked at what they have at last released. The costs of the contract have long been recognised as an astronomical amount that we cannot afford but revellations that someone agreed additional payments of 400,000.00 per month after May 14 only 3 years into the planning application process, knowing that Corys riverside facility took 12 years to get through, is astounding neg.ligence on someones part. The reports are clear NCC now admit the project is not financially viable and that is the reason the council need to pull out before 1st May. Everyone should note that the views of people you like to label nimbies have meant nothing at all to officers or cabinet members to them only money matters.

    Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Sorry bumble - I must have missed the moment you stood up at the Public Inquiry and made all those points rather than wait over a year to moan on here instead. This IS a victory on more than one level - don't blame ordinary members of the public for making a stand when we all know it was utter folly for Bill Borrett and Derrick Murphy to jump the gun and sign that wretched contract when they didn't have all the appropriate authorisation and consent in the first place. It is they that have saddled Norfolk with this huge debt, no one else.

    Report this comment

    User Removed

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Thanks a lot kings Lynn higher council tax less services all thanks to you

    Report this comment

    townie

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Thanks a lot kings Lynn higher council tax less services all thanks to you

    Report this comment

    townie

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Not much of a win. The opposition group did not persuade NCC to drop the incinerator on the strength of their arguments about environmental concerns or the superiority of alternative schemes. They caused delays and stalled the progress until the economics of the contract brought the project to the end.

    Report this comment

    G_of_Norwich

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • They all did it out of altruism. I certainly did and I know the two Michaels did and everyone else I know. It has cost and cost and the only reward is knowing that they did the right thing. Just because you cannot imagine decent people doing the decent thing Daisy Roots does not mean they do not exist. You just don't move in those circles. I am so proud to call these people my friends.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • "Many cheaper alternatives" I wonder what they are and whether they stand up to scrutiny. Transporting our rubbish to Lincolnshire or Suffolk certainly falls short on a number of counts. Nor does containerising it and shipping it to the Netherlands. Although having lived there I doubt if the Dutch Government would be supporting a process that is as dangerous as our local environmentalists suggest. They are far too protective to do anything that would threaten their environment and population. As for the victory by "ordinary members of the public" can I now be confident that citizens of West Norfolk all have a qualification in environmental science?. They are apparently very well informed. I agree that the follies of Council officials are inexcusable, but where was the expertise in the ranks to oppose the decision being made at the outset or, at least, come up with a cheaper alternative even if it also involved incineration on a different scale? Perhaps those opposed to 'dirty chimneys' should do their bit by boycotting goods made in China or India where they do know a thing or two about environmental damage.

    Report this comment

    bumble7

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Interesting post Daisy. I think this story is interesting because it points towards the deeper culture of us never developing in this country because of insane planning rules and campaigns literally against anything and everything. This county has been literally strangled during the 21st century because we have failed or delayed to act due to the smallest reasons. As a nation we seem terrified to act on anything. Look at the energy crisis that is looming. Should we go Nuclear, should we not, in come the protestors, years of dithering and one day the power goes off. And stays off. Because we didn't act.

    Report this comment

    Steady On

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • So Daisy, have you visited the area? Have you seen how houses have struggled to be sold in W and S Lynn? Have you seen the vast amounts of traffic already in the vicinity? There are better alternatives to EfW, like the contract KLandWN concil have signed up to. Please, take your political and upset agenda elsewhere

    Report this comment

    d, west lynn

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • I agree. Twenty plus years ago we lived less than 2 miles away from an incinerator, which had a fruit farm very nearby. No problems with health or fruit on the farm and obviously technology has greatly improved. Nimbyism rears it's ugly head yet again. what do people think is going to happen to their rubbish ? oh , don't worry we're going to transport it somewhere else ! As the remainder of local people in Norfolk are going to have to pick up the bill by their council tax because of selfishness and self interest why aren't West Norfolk paying more because of this stupid and ridiculous decision ?

    Report this comment

    P.Doff

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Why are people hailing this as a victory? Millions of Pounds are going to come out of the County's diminishing funds to pay for nothing at all. To say nothing of the money wasted on endless enquiries. I recently saw a piece on BBCTV London region news about a similar plant in the capital. Materials were still being recycled in a clean and modern looking plant. The rest was incinerated with the by-products of generated electricity and supplying free heat to nearby premises. Nobody was dying or being made ill. Millions of Pounds were being saved without the necessity of paying penalties for burying stuff in the countryside. What we are left with is a massive debt, No solutions as to what to do with our waste other than to transport it to another County or ship it overseas. How dumb is that? What ended up a political bear pit started out as fringe environmentalist scaremongering and the public being misinformed on a huge scale. I don't think this is a victory in any sense of the word just another sad reflection on how our elected representatives at County Hall fall over at the slightest hint of public opposition.

    Report this comment

    bumble7

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Personally, I would rather that we built a gasification plant to deal with Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) as that is the most efficient and least environmentally damaging way of disposing of MSW at the present time. However, as that option wasn't on the table one has to look at the problems caused by incineration and the alternatives of continuing to use landfill sites. Incineration potentially releases dioxins, some heavy metals and particulates. Most of these are already present in the environment and also come from a variety of other sources including industry, coal fired power stations and motor vehicle emissions. Of these motor vehicle emissions far outweigh anything harmful produced by incinerating MSW. Landfill, far from being safe, is potentially far more problematic and harmful to human health in the long term than incineration. Landfill sites are rapidly being exhausted. Most are far from safe and pollute the water table with heavy metals, pathogens and other toxic materials. They also produce methane and other environmentally damaging gases and remain potentially dangerous for many thousands of years. The World Health Organisation (WHO) among a myriad of other bodies has published reports on the dangers associated with landfill and the dangers it poses to the environment and human health. To pretend that incineration is the only way of dealing with MSW is nonsense but as no other realistic alternatives were either on the table or viable the cancelling of the incinerator will be seen as short sighted and folly.

    Report this comment

    Bad Form

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • To all the people who have spent over 4 years campaigning against the incinerator - I salute you. You are local heroes to all of Kings Lynn and everyone that believes in democracy. The proposed incinerator is technologically defunct & economically, environmentally and morally questionable - as are the Cllrs and officers that supported it in the face of OVERWHELMING opposition and scientific evidence. This sorry debacle has highlighted the incredible lack of intelligence and moral fibre at NCC.

    Report this comment

    sallzy

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • To all those people on here who are peddling their (mostly) unpleasant pro-incinerator agenda - why haven't I seen you out there campaigning FOR your incinerator? Why haven't you been out in all weather running stalls in the town centre? Why weren't you standing up at the planning meetings? Why weren't you slogging round the houses, writing letters, trying to galavanise support? Why didn't you invest your money, your time, your hearts and souls into a campaign of your own? Well - where were you?

    Report this comment

    trickywatford

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • The saddest part of this whole debacle is that while people procrastinate over the rights and wrongs of the political process that allowed this situation to develop our waste continues to be disposed of in landfill. Landfill, is arguably more harmful and damaging to the environment and human health than the alternative of incineration, which was a central plank of the anti campaign. The victory claimed by the anti campaign will be short lived and will be remembered for being very hollow. It hasn't provided any solutions to the problems of what to do with waste, it hasn't reduced council tax bills and it won't be remembered for long when in a few years time people are asked to pay more to ship their waste elsewhere for others to deal with!

    Report this comment

    Bad Form

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • And they did this out of altruism? And neither of them stands to be better off if there is no incinerator near their land? No one asked that question did they, who has interests not far away from a new planning area close to the A47. This is not a victory for democracy at all. It is a victory of vested interest lobby groups and scaremongerers over the decisions of a body elected by the whole county which made that decision-however right or wrong, to solve a problem affecting the whole county. I lost count of the times I saw posts saying Lynn had bad air quality when the councils own monitoring data clearly showed that the only bad results came from monitors close to a major or busy road. We saw a petition handed in which had been garnered from the whole of West Norfolk with signatories possibly living as far from the site as someone in North Walsham would live from a proposed site in Norwich. The geography of West Norfolk borough allowed opponents to collect this misleading evidence of opposition and no one batted an eyelid. Not just NIMBY but nine bob note work and now we are going to all have to fork out for the results, and my council tax is quite enough as it is.Quite how the EDP decides this is fair-one lobby group and a group of local councillors riding roughshod over a whole county defeats me. Maybe NCC should have been half sharp and launched a counter petition for all council tax payers in the county

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Well done KLWIN, Alex Kemp, John Dobson, John Martin and everyone else who fought against it.

    Report this comment

    Bikerboy

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • And which of the opponents fought the incinerator simply because they opposed the council and the way the cabinet acted on principle, rather than on the basis of whether the incinerator was the right way to go?

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • The main picture isn't doing them any favours. Looks like an advert for canary call.

    Report this comment

    Steady On

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • The problem is that waste has to be disposed of somehow. Regettably, an awful lot of information used to scare people about the risks of incineration was either inaccurate or exaggerated. The unfortunate legacy of this hollow victory is that waste will now have to be buried somewhere or exported to another country to be dealt with. In either case the costs and risks to the environment and to human health are conveniently ignored. Incineration, whilst not perfect, remains the best way to deal with a problem that each of us contribute to. The argument about how to dispose of Norfolk's waste hasn't been addressed or dealt with but simply put on the back burner (pun intended).

    Report this comment

    Bad Form

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Fantastic work by everyone in opposition to this absurdity. While they are paying out millions in compensation to Cory Wheelabrator, how about some of that going to these heroes, who have sacrificed time, money and a large chunk of their lives to save Norfolk from itself? They get my vote for 'Citizens of the Decade'. How about a knighthood?

    Report this comment

    Barking

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Why are people hailing this as a victory? Millions of Pounds are going to come out of the County's diminishing funds to pay for nothing at all. To say nothing of the money wasted on endless enquiries. I recently saw a piece on BBCTV London region news about a similar plant in the capital. Materials were still being recycled in a clean and modern looking plant. The rest was incinerated with the by-products of generated electricity and supplying free heat to nearby premises. Nobody was dying or being made ill. Millions of Pounds were being saved without the necessity of paying penalties for burying stuff in the countryside. What we are left with is a massive debt, No solutions as to what to do with our waste other than to transport it to another County or ship it overseas. How dumb is that? What ended up a political bear pit started out as fringe environmentalist scaremongering and the public being misinformed on a huge scale. I don't think this is a victory in any sense of the word just another sad reflection on how our elected representatives at County Hall fall over at the slightest hint of public opposition.

    Report this comment

    bumble7

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Steady On

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • I find it wonderfully ironic that the "blame it on the kings lynn nimbys" is, in itself, a NIMBY-esque remark.

    Report this comment

    LynnLegend

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • And to the pro-incinerator ranters on this thread. Please can I encourage you all to educate yourselves in this area before commenting on these articles. The last 4-years have produced an enormous amount of publicly available literature regarding this project. There really is no excuse for unsubstantiated comments with no reference to further reading.

    Report this comment

    sallzy

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • Well said Daisy.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • The problem is that waste has to be disposed of somehow. Regettably, an awful lot of information used to scare people about the risks of incineration was either inaccurate or exaggerated. The unfortunate legacy of this hollow victory is that waste will now have to be buried somewhere or exported to another country to be dealt with. In either case the costs and risks to the environment and to human health are conveniently ignored. Incineration, whilst not perfect, remains the best way to deal with a problem that each of us contribute to. The argument about how to dispose of Norfolk's waste hasn't been addressed or dealt with but simply put on the back burner (pun intended).

    Report this comment

    Bad Form

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • The keyboard warriors here do realise that the propsed incinerator was the most expensive proposal by the council and that there are many cheaper alternatives? or are you blinded by dirty smoke from an efw chimney?

    Report this comment

    d, west lynn

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

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

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