Revised plan drawn up for Norfolk incinerator

The proposed incinerator site at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt.

The proposed incinerator site at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt.

Archant © 2010

A revised plan has been lodged for the proposed Norfolk incinerator, it has emerged, but council bosses have insisted it is not for “something fundamentally different”.

It turns out Cory Wheelabrator, the company awarded a contract by Norfolk County Council to run the proposed incinerator at King’s Lynn, submitted what is known as a draft revised project plan back in April.

But the revised plan, which cannot be made public because it is a “commercially sensitive document”, is not a new proposal, the council insists.

They say it is needed because it has become clear the original longstop date - a contractual condition giving a date by which a contractual condition or set of conditions has to be met - would be missed because of the public inquiry into the granting of planning permission for the £596m plant.

A spokesman said: “No-one should be under any mistaken illusion that revised plan will be something fundamentally different.

“Because the arrangements for the inquiry made it clear the original planning longstop date would be missed, it became obvious that a draft revised project plan was required which would in effect, simply recalibrate costings, which must stay within acceptable parameters, and timetables.

“It is basically just an update to contract dates to reflect the delay and an update to the costs to reflect that. To be clear, it is not a new proposal – there is no change to the type of facility, size or location.”

The council said it had requested the draft revised project plan in January 2013 when it became clear the original longstop date would not be met.

That was done, the council says, in consultation with the cabinet member for waste and environment and the authority stressed that would not prevent the council pulling the plug on the contract if the secretary of state prevented planning permission being granted.

But Tim East, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Costessey, said he had not been made aware that the revised draft project plan had been ordered - or lodged - until now.

He said: “We should have been told. Nothing should be held back from elected members. And I am becoming increasingly furious that elected members are asking questions which are not being answered.

“The big issue here is who is running the council? Is it elected members or is it a core of officers?”

The council says the draft revised project plan can only be set in motion if it is agreed, which would need to be by the end of October.

A council spokesman said: “It may be that due to the nature of the changes to dates and pricing being relatively small that there is no requirement for a further cabinet decision, but if there are large changes then it would.”

Last month, a motion which was agreed by the council agreed that members of the council’s cabinet were to work with officers to draw up what they branded as “contingency arrangements”, including “alternatives to energy from waste”, if the contract did not go ahead.

The council’s cabinet also ordered an independent review of the contract and the process which led to it being signed.

The previous Conservative administration, which agreed the contract with Cory Wheelabrator, had said the incinerator was needed to deal with Norfolk’s waste and would save taxpayers’ money. But, in a poll organised by West Norfolk Council, 65,000 people said they were against the plant.

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