City needs more waste treatment plants

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Norfolk needs two additional waste treatment plants alongside a controversial £90m incinerator scheme on the outskirts of Norwich to cut the amount of rubbish going into landfill.


Norfolk needs two additional waste- treatment plants alongside a controversial £90m incinerator scheme on the outskirts of Norwich to cut the amount of rubbish going into landfill.

County council officials are putting together a business case for the new facilities, known as 'contract B', as the first step to seeking a contractor to build them by 2013.

The authority is already in advanced talks with Waste Recycling Group (WRG) to build an incinerator or "energy from waste" plant in Costessey, near Norwich, after nominating the firm as preferred bidder last December.

A council-commissioned report by consultants Enviros published in May has given energy from waste - which burns waste to produce electricity - a higher rating than a previous study by the same firm two years ago.

The so-called mechanical biological treatment technology - favoured by WRG's rival bidder at Longwater - has fallen down in its ratings.

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Mike Jackson, the council's director of transport and planning, said: "When it comes to contract B we will start again with an open mind about the best solution. We have never said either way that it will be energy from waste. We will look at it on its merits."

The area being considered in this report covers Yarmouth, King's Lynn and West Norfolk, North Norfolk and the Loddon area to deal with nearly 230,000 tonnes of waste.

The report - which rates a third form of composting technology "anaerobic digestion" as the best overall, says the reasons for the changed ratings include changing assumptions about the costs of the different technologies and alterations to government rules preventing the compost produced being used on farmland following the swine-fever outbreak.

It comes as the future of a controversial plan for a £90m incinerator in Costessey, near Norwich, is set to be discussed behind closed doors by a special project board of councillors and officials on Friday.

Mr Jackson downplayed suggestions that the WRG scheme was under threat because of restrictive covenants on the land they own barring them from operating the plant. "That's not a big deal," he added. "We have made a lot of progress in the last few weeks. What we will be doing on Friday is putting a final version of the preferred- bidder letter to the project board.

"We will be advising the board that we have reached satisfactory out-comes on all these issues and asking them to sign off the preferred bidder letter. With proposals of this kind it's not unusual that some of the issues have been left unresolved. The process of negotiation with WRG will go on.

"We feel by Friday we will have dealt with all issues including WRG being able to give us sufficient evidence that they have got sufficient land."