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Air quality – effects ‘not significant’, inquiry is told

PUBLISHED: 08:41 09 March 2013 | UPDATED: 14:05 09 March 2013

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

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

Archant © 2013

The Public Inquiry into a waste facility proposed at a site in Saddlebow, King’s Lynn, has been told that the proposal would not have “any significant adverse affects” to the air quality of the area.

Speaking on behalf of the applicants, Cory-Wheelabrator, Daniel Smyth said: “An air quality assessment has been undertaken to predict the effects associated with the construction and operation of the proposal. The assessment has considered air quality effects on specified residual receptors and sensitive vegetation and ecosystems, alone and in combination with other facilities.

“The results of the assessment suggest that the air quality effects during operation would be insignificant. The predicted cumulative air quality effects of the stack and traffic-related emissions are not significant.”

Mr Smyth, who has worked in the field of air quality for about 18 years, went on to say that odour problems were not expected at the facility even in the event of a full plant shutdown.

In cross-examination discussion focussed on the monitoring of pollutants as well as the modelling used in the assessment. Mr Smyth was asked whether a computer modelling method which was more accurate than that used would highlight risks which had not been taken into account.

Mr Smyth said: “A more accurate method would not be able to show anything where a conservative approach shows nothing.”

The dispersion modelling had shown that a 85m high stack would minimise the effects to human health of the facility.

A member of the public, who lives near to the site, drew a comparison to Palm Paper’s facility which she said had a plume which lingered above the factory.

Mr Smyth replied that: “Paper mills use a lot of water so you get a lot of steam. It takes some of the temperature and doesn’t rise in the same way as a warm plume would do.

“In terms of the Willows that is buoyant, it’s 120 degrees, it’s hot compared to the ambient air so it will rise.”

When asked whether an assessment based on estimates could reassure the public Mr Smyth said: “It is a professional estimate based on a very conservative approach.

“The way that air quality regulation works is a combination of monitoring and modelling.”

The facility will continually monitor the release of some pollutants whilst there will be monitoring at regular intervals for some other chemicals.

Costs for the Willows facility could be as much as £500m and a grant of up £169m has been agreed by Defra.

The proposed facility is contracted to treat 170,000 tonnes of residual municipal waste per year but is expected to process as much as 268,000 tonnes per annum.

More than 65,000 voted against the incinerator at a referendum run by West Norfolk Borough Council in February 2011.

The inquiry will resume on Monday morning at the Professional Development Centre, on Kilham’s Way.

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