By DAVID BLACKMORE
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Four hundred people turned out for a public meeting today to learn how a public inquiry into the controversial King’s Lynn incinerator plan is likely to unfold.
*There are roughly 376 people at Lynnsport for a pre-incinerator public inquiry meeting #KingsLynn #edp24
*Lots of complaints about the lack of travelling microphone as residents ask questions to planning inspector #WillowsIncinerator #KingsLynn
*Planning inspector calls for quiet because of background noise. Looks like microphone table is being readied for public #WillowsIncinerator
*Meeting adjourned for 15 minutes while public microphone table is set up. Lots of people unhappy about this “farce” as one councillor said
*Cllr Brian Long has told me sports hall and Corn Exchange were offered as possible venues and said he was surprised Lynnsport was chosen
*Cllr Long said the borough council offered use of it’s venues to stop meeting being held in Norwich. #WillowsIncinerator
*Cllr Long added Town Hall couldn’t have been used as 170 people would’ve had to be turned away going on my account #WillowsIncinerator
*Planning inspector says he is concerned by lack of people who have returned after adjournment #WillowsIncinerator
*Planning inspector has also suggested possibly adjourning meeting to another day or to another venue because of delays #WillowsIncinerator
*“These meetings usually take three hours but it’s been so slow today because people have had to repeat everything” planning inspector said
#willowsIncinerator #pim pauses again while the roving Mic finally arrives, 1h50 into the meeting #klwin
*Horrible feedback as roving mic interferes with current mic set up. My ears are still ringing as I’m sure everyone else’s are!
*Borough council, NCC, Cory Wheelabrator and KLWIN telling planning inspector how many witnesses they will be calling. #willowsIncinerator
*As many as 24 different witnesses could be called to public inquiry for WNcouncil, NCC, KLWIN and Cory Wheelabrator #willowsIncinerator
*Planning inspector expects 1250-1500 attendees on first day of Inquiry 50-100 each day after #WillowsIncinerator #PIM
*Planning inspector now thinks 20 days might not be long enough with 24 witnesses as he works with 3/4 day per witness #willowsIncinerator
*Cross-examination by more than one party could see inquiry take up to 24 days which does not include opening and closing statements
*Borough council and NCC solicitors believe inquiry could still by done in 20 days but admit rule of thumb used by inspector is good guide
*Planning inspector unveils possible inquiry dates starting from Feb 26 and finishing on Apr 18/19 with 9.30am start and 5pm finish most days
*There must be at least half the amount of people here now compared to start of meeting #willowsIncinerator #PIM
*Planning inspector confirms an agenda will be made available for public to see what topics are being covered for each day of inquiry
*NCC solicitor also confirms there will be a website dedicated to the inquiry where public can view agenda and witnesses’ proof of evidence
*Question asked if inquiry will be video recorded. Planning inspector says he normally doesn’t allow this other than opening day #PIM
*Planning inspector says there will be evening sessions from 7pm to 10pm if the public demand it. This would see morning sessions scrapped
*Solicitor asks if KLWIN abbreviation for inquiry could be “W” because it stands for “win” sparking a round of applause
*Lots of people have left this meeting now. I estimate we’ve only got 150 left here out of the 400 at start #willowsIncinerator #PIM
*Frustrations grow amongst remaining residents as discussions between solicitors continue and we head into fourth hour #willowsIncinerator
*More and more people are leaving the #willowsIncinerator meeting now. I think @MatthewUsher ‘s estimate of 100 is about right now #PIM
*Meeting finished. That was a long one! Despite the delays it only ran 25 minutes over #willowsIncinerator
But the meeting at Lynnsport was adjourned less than an hour after it begun because the government inspector and others who attended could not hear questions being asked by residents.
And by the end of the three-and-a-half hour meeting the number of people in the room dwindled to less than 100 as residents grew frustrated at also not being able to understand what was being discussed.
Planning inspector Ken Smith told the meeting: “These meetings usually take three hours but it’s been so slow today because people have had to repeat everything.”
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles “called in” the county council’s decision to award planning permission for the “energy from waste” scheme in Saddlebow after receiving thousands of letters opposing it.
That means the final decision will now be taken by the government, after a public inquiry chaired by an independent inspector makes a recommendation whether it should go ahead or not.
Representatives from Norfolk County Council, Cory Wheeelabrator, which hopes to run the plant, KLWIN (King’s Lynn Without Incineration) and West Norfolk council attended today’s meeting.
The meeting at the leisure centre, off Greenpark Avenue, set out to agree the diary for the inquiry, which will start on February 26.
No evidence was heard today but residents were able to put forward additional issues for the planning inspector to consider.
The inquiry itself will held at the King’s Lynn Corn Exchange for the first day where it is anticipated around 1,500 will attend.
It will then move to the West Norfolk professional development centre, in Lynn’s Kilham’s Way, and finished by April 19.
Today’s meeting came after opponents of the proposed incinerator accused county council leaders of being on the brink of doing the people of Norfolk “a serious misjustice” for pushing ahead with the waste plant rather than considering alternatives.
At a meeting of the full county council earlier this week, a motion was put forward which called for the authority to use the period leading up to the inquiry to look at alternatives to the plant.
The motion also called for the county council to sign a confidentiality clause which would have allowed them to be fully briefed on the details of West Norfolk Council’s alternative.
The borough council is poised to sign a contract with a rival consortium called Material Works to turn its waste into an inert plastic used in the building industry instead.
It claims that the process would be cheaper, more environmentally-friendly and create 200 jobs at an as yet unannounced site.
But the Conservative-controlled council rejected the motion, which was put forward by their former colleague John Dobson, county councillor for the Dersingham division, who was expelled by the Tories in the summer.
Norfolk County Council awarded the contract to build and operate the incinerator last year.
It said the plant was needed to prevent the county’s waste having to go to landfill, which would save taxpayers millions of pounds a year.
But campaigners claim there are health risks and there are cheaper and more environmentally-friendly methods of recycling our waste. More than 65,000 people voted against the plant in a poll organised by West Norfolk council.