Health risk row over Lynn incinerator plans
Shaun LowthorpeA row erupted yesterday over whether plans to build an incinerator near King's Lynn would prove a health risk to people living nearby.Norfolk County Councillors yesterday agreed to move ahead with plans to shortlist two firms to build an incinerator, known as energy from waste, at Saddlebow on the edge of King's Lynn.Shaun Lowthorpe
A row erupted yesterday over whether plans to build an incinerator near King's Lynn would prove a health risk to people living nearby.
Norfolk County Councillors yesterday agreed to move ahead with plans to shortlist two firms to build an incinerator, known as energy from waste, at Saddlebow on the edge of King's Lynn.
Two rival consortia, Cory Wheelabrator, and AmeyCespa, will now go head to head for the right to build and manage a new incinerator, which could be up and running by 2015.
Officers believe the latest scheme earmarked for the Saddle, part of a �150m government backed private finance package, will help reduce Norfolk's landfill mountain, by treating 170,000 tonnes of 'black bin' rubbish from homes a year, but also generate electricity which can supply local homes, schools and businesses in the area.
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But North-West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham has already called for local referendum on the issue to give people in the area a chance to have their say.
Members of the county councils planning, transportation, environment and waste overview and scrutiny panel yesterday held a special meeting to agree the plans and were given a detailed explanation of merits of the energy from waste plans, which will now be subject to the approval of the ruling cabinet on Tuesday.
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Lib Dem councillor Tim East also urged the Tory-run council not to put all its eggs in the incinerator basket and suggested that the Cory bid should be replaced by another firm, Resources from Waste, which had developed a rival thermal treatment technology, which can also generate electricity and solid fuel.
Mr East, whose plan was voted down by the Conservatives on the panel, said the authority had been selective in its assessment of the health risks posed by emissions from incinerators which he said could put people at increased risk of heart attacks and breathing deformities.
'The smaller the particles, the more dangerous they are,' Mr East said. 'They can even enter the blood stream. The elderly and children are at risk as people who already have respiratory problems.
'This would mean particles would build up in the body over the 25 years of the incinerator contract.'
But Bev Spratt, deputy cabinet member for transport and planning said that Norfolk had missed out because of the work of anti-incinerator campaigners.
'We have put this all on the back burner,' Mr Spratt said. 'We have been having this campaign against energy from waste for 10 years. It's held us up and it hasn't got any substance
'I can't agree with this proposal by Tim East,' he added. 'He has been quite badly scaremongering. This is going to help our targets in the long run.'
The meeting heard that the plant would primarily deal with refused collected in West Norfolk, Breckland and possibly North Norfolk.
But during public questions Jennifer Parkhouse, from Norwich and Norfolk Friends of the Earth failed to secure a guarantee from the authority that waste from outside of Norfolk would not be shipped in and processed.
Green councillors were also worried that the new plant would discourage the authority from increasing its recycling targets, and there was concern from Lib Dem Marie Strong that there was no written agreement detailing if and how electricity produced would be sold.
Ian Monson, cabinet member for environment and waste, said that the two bids have been shortlisted after an extensive selection process and it would be 'catastrophic' to change now.
It is the second time that the county council has proposed incinerators as the best means of cutting the county's landfill mountain.
A previous bid for an incinerator in Costessey, near Norwich was dropped in the wake of massive opposition from residents, when it emerged that the firm involved, WRG, did not own the site it wanted to build on, while a legal covenant was also in place limiting the height of the building.