Incinerator D-Day will be lose-lose for Norfolk council budget

Steve Morphew. Steve Morphew.

Dan Grimmer and 
Annabelle Dickson newsdesk@archant.co.uk
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
6:30 AM

A leading member of Norfolk County Council’s cabinet has said whatever the secretary of state decides over the proposed Norfolk incinerator it will be lose-lose when it comes to the authority’s budget.

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Communities secretary Eric Pickles is due to reveal whether he has given the go-ahead to planning permission for the proposed plant at Saddlebow on, or before, Tuesday.

But Steve Morphew, portfolio holder for finance, corporate and personnel on the Labour/Liberal Democrat cabinet, said whether Mr Pickles says yes or no, the end result will be that the council – and taxpayers – have to reach into their pockets.

With the county council proposing £140m of cuts to help plug a £189m funding gap over the next three years, cabinet members are hoping permission is granted to avoid the compensation payments of millions of pounds which Cory Wheelabrator are likely to seek if permission is not forthcoming.

The cabinet is still hoping to pull back from some of the most contentious cuts proposed in its Putting People First consultation.

Speaking at yesterday’s cabinet meeting, Mr Morphew said: “We have got two possible scenarios when the secretary of state makes his announcement. We could have short term, very hard, issues or we could have longer term difficult issues to deal with. There are no winners either way in financial terms. It is lose-lose.”

North-West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham has written to environment secretary Owen Paterson asking him to review the decision by the Environment Agency to grant a permit for the incinerator, in the wake of the floods.

He said that he had “very grave concerns” about the planned site for the incinerator, which is flood zone three, deemed by the body to have a 
1 in 100 or greater annual probability of river flooding.

He said: “I do not think the permit process was done properly or rigorously enough.

“The events of the last six weeks, when we had a near miss in King’s Lynn, bring into sharp focus that there should be caution in putting any kind of business on the flood plain.”

31 comments

  • Bantoft, those of us who live in a flood area in King's Lynn were spared only because the wind dropped a few hours before high tide.

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    Honest John

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • The Nobbs has been leader since May 2013 when Defra informed NCC they had breached the terms of the PFI. FOI emails show that for 5 months Jackson argued with Defra that their national figures were wrong, that NCC had complied, and Jackson even put in a complaint against the Defra chap for not replying when he was away on leave. Mark Allen joined in and between them they riled Defra to the point of withdrawing the PFI. The finger of blame for the PFI being withdrawn points squarely on George Nobbs and his Cabinet for allowing NCC officials to act in such a disgraceful way, not to mention his own letters to Owen Patterson and CLG along the same lines. The old administration overlooked the impossibility of the dates put forward, the new administration lost the PFI by arguing when a simple sorry should have been the first word to Defra.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • Silly boys - should have stamped on the contract when they had the chance back in October. What a pity that councillors and officers aren't held financially liable for situations such as these; then we would have see a little more 'due diligence' when it came to signing on the dotted line.

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    User Removed

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

  • So why didn't Morphew and the others in cabinet withdraw Norfolk from the contract last October? That is the reason this is costing so much money and it is their fault. No one else.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • Bingo Widget makes a pathetic argument which is yet another limp string on a slack bow. The lack lustre armchair activist will be crying into his stale beer come the Ides of January. Another year another failure for Bingo.

    Report this comment

    Dickens

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • This mess is unlikely to see a quick resolution with a planning decision. In the event permission is granted, then opposition in West Norfolk will strengthen and the crisis at County Hall will deepen. The bitterness between the West and the rest of Norfolk will continue to grow. The incinerator will be a financial and environmental millstone around the necks of Norfolk's taxpayers. County Hall will continue to lurch from embarrassment to scandal for decades. Is this really the future we want for Norfolk?

    Report this comment

    Kadmos

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

  • Presumably many of us read today that motorway speeds are being cut in many urban areas because of the dangers of air pollution. This air pollution, which is less dangerous (within a small area) than that from an incinerator, is said to cause a number of deaths each year and to contribute to a number of illnesses,including asthma. Pickles is personally looking at this case, that is certain. The writing is on the wall for any planned incinerators.

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    democrat

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • I think you’ll find Mr Morphew that the result is the council will continue to reach into the taxpayers’ pockets just as it’s always been. To want this incinerator to go ahead just to avoid the compensation payments of millions of pounds shows a lack of foresight. As for Cory Wheelabrator they should be told to go and do one, they are a disgraceful consortium. Why would Cory Environmental join forces with Wheelabrator when their track record in the US is clear for all to see? Anyone in a Council who wants to do business with such a company must have their eyes firmly rooted on the own pockets. The quicker they are all sent packing the better for Norfolk!

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • We have just had the worst floods and storm river surges for over 60 years, did the area flood 2 weeks ago? No, it did not, get on and build it and stop filling our lovely country with landfill

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • And who is to blame for this situation?

    Report this comment

    Michael Clintergate

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • We have just had the worst floods and storm river surges for over 60 years, did the area flood 2 weeks ago? No, it did not, get on and build it and stop filling our lovely country with landfill

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • I take it DelB lives nowhere near the category 3 flood plain they want to build it on!

    Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • Cllr George Nobbs stated yesterday, in response to a question to the NCC Cabinet from a member of the public, that should the Communities Secretary grant planning permission for the incinerator it might be necessary to increase the bill of each Norfolk council taxpayer by two percent over the next twenty-five years to make good the loss of the waste infrastructure credits. (Clearly, the alternative would be as bad, namely even further cuts in essential services.) Yet both possibilities could have been avoided had Cllr Nobbs’ administration exercised its legal right to terminate the incinerator contract three months ago. Surely, it would have made much greater sense to pull out then, and pay the penalty of £26m, than to risk planning permission being forthcoming this month. If it is forthcoming, then the problem for Norfolk is not simply making good the loss of £169m but also being saddled with and paying for an incinerator for twenty-five years, the need for which will rapidly disappear. And he should not blame Defra for this state of affairs. The previous administration failed to show sufficient foresight when it signed the contract.

    Report this comment

    John Martin

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • Can anyone believe NCC thinks this incinerator would be an asset when it reverts back to their ownership at the end of the 25 year contract? The technology CW want to use is outdated now, it will be an obsolete toxic eyesore in 25 years, NCC made no financial provision for its decommissioning, that alone would wipe out any savings they are attempting to kid us with now. If Mr Pickles can’t see things for what they are, that neither this CW application nor NCC are fit for purpose, it will be a sad reflection of his judgement.

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    Honest John

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • So why didn't this cabinet get out us of this mess last October when it could have done for minimal cost. Look at the Cabinet everyone, they are totally to blame for this.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • How many of the 9 are now on the Cory Wheelabrators board ??

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • Glad this waste of time and public money is over. Those campaigners should have sat back and kept quiet. That way we would have it built by now and saved about £175 million as well. No doubt they will keep on moaning until the last brick is laid. Yawn.

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    Inactive account

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

  • Perhaps it's should be renamed 'The Wonga Incinerator' as a nod to the poor value for money it's going to represent to the taxpayer? Plus it's definitely in the wonga place if nothing else....

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    User Removed

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

  • Despite the worst the weather could throw all over the UK including Norfolk the proposed site is as dry as a bone so that argument about flooding is finished. It seems all the other silly anti campaign arguments were just as flawed. Building starts in March I believe.

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    Jack Bantoft

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • Typical disinformation here by Dave G. The incinerator will not be able to deal with landfill waste which costs us 3 million per year now. A gas plasma plant made in Britain and much cheaper, would do this task, indeed it can deal with any kind of waste, but was rejected by the 9 who signed the contract, for the more expensive inferior solution. Dave G., you can't rub up 60.500 people in West Norfolk and if you have an expensiove Norfolk wide referendum you would find that two thirds of us will reject this 1970 monstrosity.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • I pay 100 pounds per month council tax I will be more than happy to pay 102, up 2 per cent, if the incinerator is stopped! Why the scaremongering about council tax rise when NCC are cutting meals on wheels, school transport and umteen other services to pay for their pet projects such as the NDR, RAF Coltishall and the incinerator?

    Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • Imagine what would happen to Norfolk County Council if we all (65,000) withheld our council tax in protest if the incinerator were to go ahead.

    Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

  • Nobbs and his friends should check the calendar - not long till people like Castle will need to head a lot further south to top up their tan whilst basking in the light of the sun as it is quickly fading over Norfolk's Labour Group.... Roll on May.

    Report this comment

    User Removed

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

  • Bantoft, would you like to see Cory wheelabrator burn its contaminated filters intheir own incinerator, as they have done for years in the US? This would spread unimaginable amounts of heavy metals, cadmium, furins and dioxins. Flooding, as already said, was narrowly averted, but the lack of a national flood defence policy does not make for a safe future on that site.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • I hope permission comes through because those campaigners have cost us all a fortune up to now. Build it and we will be millions better off.

    Report this comment

    Del Boy

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • Most taxpayers would be happy to pay a bit more to stop the incinerator rather than finance it. The increase would have happened anyway - even without the unwanted incinerator in the picture. Councillors had the chance a few weeks ago to put this to bed once and for all but they were too gutless to stand by their promises and convictions and too lazy to research other options. Osborne has already told us that we, the tax-payers, are going to be worse off this year so this scaremongering from S.M. doesn't wash.

    Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • Ingo they can not stand the sight of each other, Knobbs hates talking to west Norfolk as they ask questions he know nothing about.

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

  • Once the incinerator is stopped, the council will no longer have the option of washing their hands and saying 'well that's our duty to deal with waste sorted...' while falsely claiming to have saved money. They'll have to get off their bottoms and sort a real solution, that the population of Norfolk will support. It will be cheaper too. The council might have to do some real, constructive, work, rather than expend all the money and resources they have on trying to impose this monstrosity on us. They keep claiming that 'everything was done legally'. Well Wonga's legal.. that doesn't make it value for money. This whole saga has been a fiasco. Abandon the incinerator, and keep Norfolk a nice place to live!

    Report this comment

    Barking

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

  • Kadmos, there is no real animosity between the west of Norfolks people and any other in Norfolk. It is the Tory party mainly who are excising themselves over this backward proposal which does not fit our needs. Norfolk has been asked in 2000 as to their preferred option and if asked again I'm sure the result would be the same or even stronger in favour of reducing waste, NCC never tried that, reusing waste, again in its infancy, and recycling waste, something we, the people are doing the most of. Burning waste is not the done thing anymore, there are far better methods for our needs to reduce landfill and reinstate it for public use.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

  • Ingo, West Norfolk has been remarkably decent and restrained in the face of County Hall's actions. The bitterness isn't personal but political and it isn't limited to Conservative activits either. There is a very real sense of exclusion, lack of investment and opportunity and downright betrayal throughout West Norfolk. The overwhelming wishes of the Borough are simply being ignored.

    Report this comment

    Kadmos

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

  • Mr Morphew knows about finance he ran Norwich City Council;for years

    Report this comment

    PaulH

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

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

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