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King's Lynn incinerator latest: PM says public opinion should count

PUBLISHED: 16:52 30 March 2011 | UPDATED: 17:17 30 March 2011

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Prime Minister tells MPs that public opinion should be part of planning process

Prime Minister David Cameron gave a boost to opponents of a proposed incinerator on the edge of King’s Lynn today when he said that local opinion should be taken into account.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons, Mr Cameron said he felt it was “very important local communities have their say” on plans such as these.

The message came hours after a senior Norfolk County Council officer said the authority could ignore the results of the recent referendum in West Norfolk, which saw 65,000 people vote against proposals for an energy from waste plant in Saddlebow.

Mike Jackson, director of transport and development at County Hall, said that the referendum would not be a “material consideration” - apparently flying in the face of Government attitudes to public involvement.

He was invited to a meeting of West Norfolk council’s resources and performance panel last night where members decided to recommend that a formal complaint be made against the county council for its “disparaging and unhelpful actions” which panel members said had been “perverse and perplexing.”

Council leader Nick Daubney said West Norfolk council would be holding two special meetings on April 14 to formalise the process before firing the complaint to County Hall.

“No lesser person than the Prime Minister has made it clear that public opinion should be taken into account,” he said.

“Otherwise it would almost be like saying we are holding an election, but won’t take any notice of the results,” he added.

Mr Daubney said those campaigning against the incinerator should take heart from what Mr Cameron had said.

Norfolk County councillors are to scrutinise the decision to award a contract to build the incinerator to Anglo-US company Cory Wheelabrator on April 19.

The original meeting last week was scrapped after concerns that witnesses invited to the session had not had access to council reports related to the issue.

Initially the meeting was rescheduled for tomorrow (31) but this was put back to the later date which fitted in with a prearranged meeting and gave witnesses more time to make arrangements to attend.

The Prime Minister was responding to a question about incinerators put by MP Fiona Bruce whose Cheshire constituency is also fighting plans put forward by an American company to create a £200m waste burning plant.

She asked Mr Cameron if the opinion of local people should be given “paramount importance” in the process - which he unequivocally backed.

The Cheshire application has been rejected by the local planning authority and was subject to a public enquiry earlier this month. A decision is expected in the summer.

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