A Government department has come under fire for its role in the King’s Lynn incinerator “train wreck”, as MPs questioned why it had agreed a deal with Norfolk County Council amid major concerns about the project timetable.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

In a heated Public Accounts Committee hearing, the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs’ top official was questioned about the recent revelations it had warned Norfolk that it had underestimated the amount of time getting a green light for the Saddlebow project would take.

The council has axed the project amid planning delays, and has been left with a £30 million compensation bill.

Richard Bacon, a member of the committee and a Norfolk MP, told Bronwyn Hill, permanent secretary of the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, that she could have withheld her signature from the funding agreement.

But during a near 40 minutes of questioning Ms Hill told MPs that Norfolk County Council had gone into the project “with their eyes open”.

“We were very clear with Norfolk, this was their decision. They were at risk as a council. I regret that money has been wasted and we have not got a result from it, but they were aware of the very significant local opposition, led by local MPs and others to that project.” Committee chair Margaret Hodge later criticised the Department for pulling credits, worth about £169 million over the lifetime of the project, claiming it was unprecedented at the time the contract was signed and Norfolk could not have expected it.

Should Defra have stepped in to stop the incinerator contract?

Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk

39 comments

  • Mr Lillburn, the only official reference to the breakdown of the compensation payments can be found via ncc's website. Go to committee papers, full council, agenda and supplementary agendas of 28th Oct 13 and 7th April 2014. The actual pertinent section of the contract remains confidential.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • From the start of the Incinerator farce, I have attempted to find anything resembling details of the basis of the "compensation, which stared just over £20million a year or so ago, rose to nearly £30million earlier this year and is now quoted as being over £30million. This figure seems virtually organic in the way it increases. Come on NCC give us this information.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    john lillburn

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • You said it Ingo !

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    George Peters

    Sunday, June 29, 2014

  • you might want to listen and to look at aytsch tee tee pee colon doubledash world wide web dot parliamentlive dot tv dash main dash player dot aspx? meetingld = 15615 I believe that the words incredible and outrageous feature for all to see. We are mugs to let them do this to us!

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Saturday, June 28, 2014

  • PS. Needless to say I am waiting for the announcement of when the external auditor will open up NCC's accounts for public inspection this year. They must announce it soon! Every penny they spend belongs to us, the council tax payer, and we have every right to see invoices, remittance advices, etc, etc.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Saturday, June 28, 2014

  • Nemesis. Yes some remain sheltered by Nobbs, at the moment, but from the tone of the latest press release even he is having a wobble! No one can ignore the incompetence - negligence - turned up via the NAO and PAC. An important question in my mind at the moment is why the external auditor has been so reluctant to ask questions. Tha NAO and public accounts committee are asking very searching questions and yet Rob Murray, designated external auditor, who has received plenty of information on many aspects of NCC, should we say, financial miss management is totally uninterested. The fact he is employed by Ernst and Young may be something to do with it. Looking through the foi correspondence files between Defra and NCC I see Ernst and Young in attendance at many meetings. We know Ernst and Young pulled out of auditing Willows, Cory and Viking accounts midterm 2012-13. Could it be that there is a conflict of interest issue with Ernst and Young auditing NCC accounts particularly in relation to the incinerator?

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Saturday, June 28, 2014

  • Having read all the posts, it seems that there are people on here who know exactly what they are talking about and are posting known facts very sensibly. Then, there are those that just seem happy to 'pick a fight'. By the terminologies, spelling and silly poster names used, these pro-incinerator 'fellas' are one and the same and can only resort to scaremongering and abuse - they have no real facts to offer. Such a shame as this prohibits sensible debate!

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Saturday, June 28, 2014

  • That's interesting. Thanks for flagging them up Canary Boy.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Bikerboy

    Saturday, June 28, 2014

  • There are two reasons, Canary Boy. The first is that the EDP does not do investigative journalism. It prefers warm luvvy good news stories, or simple crimes such as "bicycle stolen in Themelthorpe. The second is that County Hall has probably warned it off giving too much cover these days to the disastrous incinerator project. Do remember that not all of those responsible for losing us £34m have left; many are still sheltering in Fortress Gnobbs.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Nemesis

    Saturday, June 28, 2014

  • No mention of yesterdays NCC press release. I wonder why?

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Saturday, June 28, 2014

  • Why does this anti campaigner use so many different names ? Because there is only one anti campaigner. Why so rude ? Because he is a loser.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Not A Nimby

    Friday, June 27, 2014

  • Brought up ? Dragged up more like. I blame the parents every time.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Sir Montague Baden-Philips

    Friday, June 27, 2014

  • Seems to me that this Realist chap is he re incarnation of that same old activist again. Bad egg. Been spotted though.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Sir Montague Baden-Philips

    Friday, June 27, 2014

  • NCC had known there was a significant chance the incinerator would not meet the timescale but ploughed on regardless. It was obvious there was no level playing field with interference from the ex leader DM kevingate fiasco to oust BCKLWN leader while the planning consultation was in progress. This is the time the planning application should have been suspended and a full central government backed investigation held. The Planning Meeting, NCC hired the services of a security firm and Cory Wheelabrator was treated like lords even though they had many violations for fraud and pollution. The objectors, Councillors and MPs were treated as second class citizens as reported in the media. It was on the cards there would be a public inquiry because of many anomalies and one sided pre determined planning application by virtue NCC had purchased the land for an incinerator. NCC was warned about the timescale but obviously never informed councillors about the consequences prior to signing the contract. The public inquiry decision has taken longer due to weekly new information from NCC and CW proving the planning application was flawed. Consensus has always been a stumbling block, referendum and especially a couple of stock generic letters from shoppers at Waitrose Swaffham. This was reinforced by the meltdown of Tory pro incinerator councillors at the elections

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    wattonlad

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • A more appropriate word is vain Schickgruber not witty as It's obvious to everyone here that DelBoy is one of your numerous pseudonyms.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Realist

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • The main difference being that Del Boy is witty and you are not.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Mr A. Schicklgruber

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Del Boy I think you must have forgotten which poster name you are using. As Di.ckens you have conceeded it was you that tried to -help- the antis with advice they ignored! Keep you a trying, old pal, to convince people you actually know what you are talking about. So far you have failed miserably.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Del Boy I think you must have forgotten which poster name you are using. As Dickens you have conceeded it was you that tried to -help- the antis with advice they ignored! Keep you a trying, old pal, to convince people you actually know what you are talking about. So far you have failed miserably.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • The anti mob never listen to anyone but each other. They will start off a bit pink then turn red then purple with anger. First you advise them then you laugh at them and then they lose. I am sending them a CD of Sinatra's 'My Way'. They can play it to each other after the decision.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Del Boy

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Del Boy. By purple do you mean UKIP...

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Andy T

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • The P.A.C meeting started at 2.30 and ended at 3.55 so I was right the edp didn't have time to listen to the whole thing! If they had they would undoubtedly have reported one committee member at 15.25 saying NCC should look to their advisors for compensation. At 15.30 they would have heard that Defra wrote to NCC on 6th Sept 2011 concerning their view of risk to planning and suggestions of options available to them which NCC decided to ignore. You do a grave injust.ice to your readers by ignoring NCC's arrogant neglig.ence in pursuing this contract against expert advice as defined by the committee.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • There is not much more to add to the excellent recollections made by many here, leaves to say that NCC also knew of the unpopularity of incineration from their feasability study of 2006 by Helen M. Horth. Their argument that they had public support for any of their sole ideas was and is clearly false. I'm sure that todays article by Ms. Dickson will be somewhat embellished by a full transcript of the committe from a FoI request. Such conspiratorial small clique, who are still silent today, and those still working for NCC, should be held responsible for the millions of our taxes paid to a company of ill repute.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Anyone with an interest in this should watch the public accounts committee meeting in full. If you cant spare the full 45 miutes, as the EDP obviously have not from their pityfull coverage, I suggest you start 14.56 minutes in. The video is available via parliament live tv you need to look at committees - public accounts - 25th June unfortunately I am moderated if I try to paste in the actual link.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • On 8 February 2012, the date on which NCC entered into its contract with CW, delegated responsibility lay with Mr Mike Jackson "in conjunction with" Cllrs Derrick Murphy and Bill Borrett. They, in particular, should have been conscious of the terrible risk they were taking of Defra withdrawing financial support worth £169m for failure to obtain planning permission. Bear in mind, that sum represented 85% of the much vaunted saving of £200m that the incinerator was supposed to produce over the cost of landfill. I have tried to make this point firmly to Mr Stephen Revell, and I am sure that others have also done this.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    John Martin

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • All these new revelations should also force Stephen Revell to look a lot deeper into his internal inquiry. No stone should be left unturned and those at fault who had the most to gain from the contract should be suitably penalised.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • I don't know how many times some people need to be reminded of the actual facts. In February 2012, Defra issued its formal offer of credits to NCC. As we later discovered, it was a term of that offer that, should planning permission not be obtained by June 2013, Defra would be entitled to withdraw the credits. (This, of course, it did.) NCC exchanged contracts with CW within hours of receipt of the offer. Why did it not see that sixteen months was too short a period to guarantee a planning decision, given that there was every likelihood of a call-in? Letters had been written to Eric Pickles requesting this long before February 2012, and there was a clear precedent for Pickles intervening - namely the waste incinerator planned for Rainworth in Nottinghamshire. (That was turned down.) Responsibility for the current mess lies solely with NCC.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Nemesis

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • No Del old mate this opponent wants to see those up in their necks in this project, be they defra civil servans NCC officers or members, held to account for costing the public purse over 30 million. I heard some time ago the sfo may look at this hopefully the nao report and the public account committee comments may hasten that investigation. Mike Jackson, David White, Paul Brittain, Mark Allen, Derek Murphy, Paul Borrett, Bill Borrett, Jenny Harries, Victoria McNeill, John Burns, Adam Sadler, Neil Thornton, to name a few, would not be able to refuse to answer questions from such an investigation.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Let me guess..........The anti campaigners would like everyone at DEFRA to 'stand down' or resign or leave. Same old same old.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Del Boy

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • HJ. Hull will be laughed out of any waste industry events I doubt even he could face out speaking on NCCs failure. Perhaps you could enlighten Margaret Hodge further on defra-ncc collusion to bend the rules if you have not spoken to her previously. Come on DelBoy talk to me, you know everything, I want to know about civil servants declaring personal prejudicial interests in projects they work on. By the way you may pull puppet Gnobbs strings but the decision to enter another contract with cw will be down to full council. Did you not read the Lynn News yesterday.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Daisy, how could NCC have been up to their neck contractually until they actually signed the contract? As for opposition, the referendum took place in West Norfolk in February 2011, a year before the contract was signed. Take a look at Cabinet 02 March 2009 Item No. 20, at the top of page 2 you will see a table of Defra’s new guidelines, requiring 24 months for planning delay in addition to 12 months for planning. NCC ignored that in its entirety, allowing nothing for planning delay, so no, Defra were not being wise after the event, it is there in black and white. The question is why did Defra accept NCC’s PFI Business Case when it did not adhere to their guidelines and why didn’t Mr Acton-Davies QC pick up on this. Anyone know the date of Joel Hull's next national presentation as a PFI expert?

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Honest John

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Not often I agree with Daisy but she is right that the Labour party were in power when it was decided that the UK needed incinerators built all across the UK. The tories inherited the unpopular national waste strategy and defra civil servants, determined to ensure incinerators were available all over the UK, positioned to serve zones, regardless of county boundaries. As I said in another recent article the same civil servants do the work regardless of which political figurehead is allegedly running the show. I would like to know if those civil servants have to declare any preju.dicial interest they have in projects they are involved in. Can you enlighten us Del Boy?

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Defra are not fit for purpose in some other matters they oversee so I can't see why they are assumed to have acted correctly here. I would like to see a clear timeline published in the EDP-because I was under the impression that the opposition to this scheme did not materialise until NCC was already in up to its neck contractually-is the Defra spokesperson being wise after the event and NCC were doing what Labour had demanded-solve waste problems- and were then sold down the river by an organisation packed with those appointed and employed during Labour's last term in office.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Are Defra "fit for purpose" now, and were they when this contract was in the offing? I have my doubts,and wonder what other debacles they have been responsible for.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    bedoomed

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • The incinerator is still being built. Only difference is a twitchy council bailed out of a contract. Another contract is already agreed in principle. After consent an announcement will be made. The anti campaign will go purple.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Del Boy

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Milecross yes I agree the Labour government are responsible for hastening the UK along the path to financial disaster with stupid targets, infrastructure projects and senseless squandering of money on idealistic schemes such as the money for newborns to invest in a trust fund! The conservatives however were the ones who took us into Europe and condemned us to health and safety regs, mass immigration, landfill taxes, green targets and massive contributions of money in support of other countries. That argument is complex and unending my point is that Margaret Hodge, regardless of the political banner she was elected under, will ask questions and demand answers of anyone - regardless of political group - who is negligent with UK taxpayers funds if that negligence is brought to her attention.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • @canary boy. Quote .Holding those to account who waste public money . Margaret hodge . This is a labour mp who supported a government who ruined this country with their wreckless spending for thirteen years. Over half a million people and rising are on food handouts in this country because of thirteen years of labour goverment

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    milecross

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Why doesn’t Richard Bacon MP look into the parts played by Defra directors Neil Thornton and John Burns, since Mike Jackson and Joel Hull would not have got Caroline Spelman to award the PFI without their assistance. The PFI would never have been awarded without those 5 district leaders who wrote letters of support to Defra, so did Spelman ever see the letters or emails telling her they had no mandate, or were they intercepted? The blame should not lie with Defra for pulling the plug on the PFI it should lie with them for awarding it.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Honest John

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • I have great respect for Margaret Hodge MP, MBE she works without fear or favour, as she should, holding those to account who waste government controlled public money. I would like to be told what she said about NCC's money missmanagement as well as a full transcript of her jud.gement on DEFRA! I know she is well aware of several NCC pet projects, with an element of gov funding, and keeping a watchful eye on those developments. It is a great shame she is unable to intervene in council tax funded projects that have no element of gov funding if she could her work load would increase enormously in respect of Norfolk.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • will Richard bacon still be smiling when he loses his seat to ukip

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    milecross

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 13°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT