Does letter spell rethink on King’s Lynn incinerator plan?

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman appeared tonight to be offering politicians time to re-think controversial plans for an incinerator.

But Norfolk County Council refused to be drawn over a letter Mrs Spelman has written after a meeting with Norfolk MPs at which she was shown the strength of opposition to the scheme.

Sources have today told the EDP the letter offered the county council more time to show public support for its plans – meaning there was time to take a fresh look at alternatives to building the incinerator at Saddlebow, near King's Lynn.

But council leader Derrick Murphy refused to be drawn on the detail, including whether the awarding of the PFI credits would be delayed and whether all sides had been told to get back around the table.

'I have received a letter from Caroline Spelman, which she wants a reply to,' Mr Murphy said. 'It doesn't change the position.'

MPs Henry Bellingham and Elizabeth Truss met Mrs Spelman two weeks ago, to highlight the strength of local opposition to the incinerator, which would be built under a �169m PFI (Private Finance Initiative) deal.

Government guidelines say there should be 'broad public consensus' for any PFI deal. But more than 65,000 people voted against the proposal in a referendum organised by West Norfolk Council, in February.

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A month later, the county council agreed to press ahead and award the contract to build and run the plant to Anglo-US consortium Cory Wheelabrator.

In a statement Mr Bellingham and Ms Truss said: 'This is a very constructive and positive letter.

'We look forward to working with all parties to find a solution that addresses Norfolk's waste and answers public concern as expressed in the referendum.'

Tonight a Westminster source added: 'The whole point is the referendum was completely ignored. You can't ignore 65,000 people.

'All parties want this resolved, they're all trying to meet in the middle.'

West Norfolk Council, which organised the poll, has earmarked �200,000 for legal action.

Earlier today, it also emerged the county council was facing the first legal challenge to the incinerator plan.

See tomorrow's EDP for the full story.

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