Mustard video: Incinerator inquiry hears claim Norwich, Costessey or Snetterton could be alternative sites for burner
10:20 27 February 2013
© Archant Norfolk 2013
There are other sites in Norfolk where an incinerator could be built other than King’s Lynn, opponents have argued at the first day of a public inquiry into the controversial plant.
A planning inspector will, in the weeks ahead, hear evidence for and against Norfolk County Council’s plan for an incinerator to be built at Saddlebow.
In June, the county council gave the incinerator planning permission after a stormy meeting, but that decision was called in by Secretary of State Eric Pickles, leading to the planning inquiry which started at King’s Lynn Corn Exchange yesterday.
While no evidence was presented, opening salvos were fired by the four parties involved in the inquiry - Norfolk County Council, Cory Wheelabrator, West Norfolk Council and campaign group King’s Lynn Without Incineration.
Solicitors for West Norfolk Council, which is opposed to the plant, said they would present evidence during the inquiry that there were other appropriate sites at Costessey, Snetterton and Norwich.
But Cory Wheelabrator, which the county council has signed a deal with to run the plant, said the Saddlebow site was “unusually well suited to the development proposal”.
Natalie Lieven QC, on behalf of West Norfolk council, said there were “fundamental objections” to the incinerator. She said: “It is accepted that there are benefits from the nature of the proposal. However this is not a suitable site to deliver those benefits and the application itself fails substantially in demonstrating that it is. The objections demonstrate that this application should be refused.”
She said the council objected on three areas of policy - proximity, waste hierarchy and prematurity. And she said evidence would be presented that showed there were other sites in Norfolk where the plant could be built, closer to where waste is produced.
She said: “The reality is that the application site is one of a number of appropriate sites in the county, others being in Costessey, Snetterton and Norwich.
“The application site would be quicker to deliver and this in itself has environmental benefits, but that is an entirely self-serving criterion at this stage of a planning application.
“It cannot be a justification for concluding that this is the right site, that it would now take time to start the process afresh.”
But Richard Phillips, QC, for Cory Wheelabrator said: “One has to ask why a centrally located facility at Costessey, which would be ‘remote’ to King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth and Thetford, would be any less ‘remote’ than King’s Lynn is to those other three urban areas.”
He added: “The application site and its surroundings are unusually well-suited to the development proposed. Indeed, in our experience, it is rare to find a site so well suited to an energy from waste proposal.
“The site enjoys unrivalled opportunities to deliver combined heat and power. Indeed, the application site could hardly be bettered in Norfolk.” Solicitor Carla Goodyear, appearing on behalf of KLWIN, said its evidence would focus on six separate areas.
She said they were the carbon footprint of the plant, the waste hierarchy, failings in the applicant’s emissions modelling, air pollution, the impact of the incinerator on the local ecology and health effects.
Neil Cameron, QC, on behalf of Norfolk County Council, said: “The Environment Agency has considered the application in detail and decided to grant a permit. In its decision document the EA state that they are satisfied that the applicant’s conclusions are soundly based and that the potential emissions of pollutants including dioxins, furans and metals are unlikely to have an impact on health.”
At the end of the inquiry, which is set to last for six weeks, planning inspector Elizabeth Hill will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State, who has the final say on whether planning permission can be granted.
Mike Knights, from KLWIN, said after yesterday’s proceedings: “We put forward a very strong opening statement to the inquiry which amply demonstrated the many flaws in the statements presented by the applicant, Cory Wheelabrator and Norfolk County Council, the planning authority.”
Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation at Norfolk County Council, which has signed a 25 year contract for the plant to handle 170,000 tonnes of residual household waste a year, said: “We are confident that the application meets all planning policy requirements, that the recommendation made by our planners was correct and that the decision taken by the planning committee was the right one, given national and local planning guidelines. I hope the inquiry can only bring further peace of mind to those looking for even more reassurance.”
The inquiry will reconvene next Tuesday.