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“If anybody had tried to talk to me about it, I would have reported them to the permanent secretary.” - Eric Pickles on accusations the delay to King’s Lynn incinerator planning decision was political

PUBLISHED: 09:25 01 April 2014 | UPDATED: 09:25 01 April 2014

Communities secretary Eric Pickles

Communities secretary Eric Pickles

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Communities secretary Eric Pickles hit back at accusations the government had “actively sabotaged” the King’s Lynn incinerator, claiming he would have reported anybody who had tried to speak to him about the planning appeal.

He said that he had been deliberating “without political favour” on what was a complicated case.

On March 10, Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs wrote to Mr Pickles saying: “The absence of any clear reason or explanation for the delay is leading to suggestions locally that the decision is being delayed for political reasons, a rumour that we are sure you would wish to dispel just as strongly as we do.

“This protracted delay is damaging both to council taxpayers and the public faith in democracy.”

But Mr Pickles said: “All planning appeals are done in a quasi-judicial way, without political favour one way or the other.

“It is a very complicated case which requires careful scrutiny and those deliberations are not finished. If anybody had tried to talk to me about it, I would have reported them to the permanent secretary.”

He said that he had read the inspector’s report, but had not yet had answers back to his questions.

The Norfolk County Council report recommending termination of the King’s Lynn incinerator proposal said the county council had written to Mr Pickles to ask him to provide a timescale within which a decision might be expected, but he had not done so, leaving the cabinet with the choice of either continuing to await the communities secretary’s decision or terminating the contract.

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