£330m paper mill gets planning approval

A £330m paper mill scheme which could boost the fortunes of King's Lynn and west Norfolk has passed its first major hurdle.

A £330m paper mill scheme which could boost the fortunes of King's Lynn and west Norfolk has passed its first major hurdle.

German firm Palm Paper was today given planning permission to build a 650m long paper mill south of Lynn - despite lengthy objections from a firm thought to be acting on behalf of another paper mill in the north of England.

Enviros Consulting, an agent for Ecco Newsprint which has plans for a mill in Middlesbrough, has raised repeated objections to the scheme, right up until Monday night when it emailed West Norfolk Council's development control board councillors repeating its concerns.

However, after a site visit and three-hour debate, all but two councillors approved the scheme.

It would see 550,000 tonnes of newsprint per year produced at Lynn, 150 new jobs at the plant and another 150 ancillary jobs.

The scheme still faces 41 conditions and having to get water abstraction and effluent licences to use water from the Flood Relief Channel and to pump used water out into the River Great Ouse.

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Dr Wolfgang Palm, head of the family firm, said: “We are very pleased with the result so far, and especially with the support of some of the councillors who are strongly supporting this project.”

Many environmental concerns had been raised over the scheme, including water abstraction from the Flood Relief Channel, chemicals from a chimney and wildlife sites.

Dr Palm said: “We understand these concerns but we have proved through our existing mills that we very much take care about the environment and we have established standards much above European legislation.”

He said it will not be at least until the new year that the firm can start work on the site.

Construction will take around 12 months with another six months to fit machinery, taking the start of production up to summer 2009, he said.

Objections from Enviros have not put off Dr Palm, the fourth generation of Palms to run the company, but he said he did not understand why they were objecting.

He said: “We have competitors who want to build a mill in Middlesborough. We do not understand why they are fighting us here.

“We are prepared to fight on the market and we never complained about their project.”

Ecco Newsprint got planning permission in April 2006, which expires in 2006. They have not yet started to build their mill and have not met conditions of their planning, the meeting was told.

The UK recycled paper industry currently imports 1.2m tonnes of newsprint and exports 1.5m tonnes of waste paper every year, said Dr Palm, so there was a need to cut the amount of paper needlessly being imported and exported by building a new mill.

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