Independent report says King’s Lynn incinerator poses no signficant health risks

An independent report commissioned by West Norfolk Council says the proposed King's Lynn incinerator would not pose significant health risks, it was revealed yesterday.

More than 100 people turned out for the meeting of West Norfolk's development control board, at Lynn Corn Exchange, at which councillors voted to uphold 13 objections to the plans.

The meeting came as a report produced on behalf of the council by independent advisors Air Quality Consultants said the impact of emissions on health or air quality would be 'insignificant', although it did recommend more information be provided.

It added: 'The findings of the air quality assessment and health impact assessment are consistent with the findings of the Health Protection Agency that 'modern, well managed incinerators make only a small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants.'

The report said that 'potential exposure to emissions from the proposals, taking into consideration background exposure where appropriate, will pose no unacceptable risk to the residential or farmer receptors in the vicinity of the proposed site'.

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The same document warned that the possible health impacts of bottom ash and heavy metals from the Cory Wheelabrator plant had not been considered, adding both should be taken into account before a decision is made.

Last night Stephen Moorcroft, a director of Air Quality Consultants, said he had recommended the council issue a 'holding objection'.

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'On the basis of the information before us at the moment there will be no significant health risks,' he said.

'We have a number of concerns about the way things were done.

'We've raised some concerns about the approach that was taken. We can't come to a final conclusion until those things are dealt with.'

At yesterday's meeting John Boldon, from Cory Environmental, said opponents of the plan had focussed on alleged health risks.

He added: 'Our environmental impact and health assessments show that these allegations are not true - the assessments conclude that there will be no significant effects on human health or the farming environment from the Willows proposal.

'Of equal significance, the initial findings of the consultants acting for West Norfolk council on air quality matters have found our assessment of emissions to be appropriate and the overall conclusions to be reasonable.

'They further conclude that the development should not be recommended for refusal on these grounds. We are therefore encouraged that the borough's independent specialists and our own find common ground in their assessment of likely health risks which are entirely consistent with similar findings for other planned and operational facilities in the UK and Europe.'

Mr Boldon said Cory would be seeking an urgent meeting with senior council officers to 'explore what additional steps can be taken to overcome the concerns expressed'.

He added: 'I would like to finish by saying that we believe that we are coming forward with an environmentally acceptable proposal that will solve the waste problem facing Norfolk, and King's Lynn, and will bring major investment to King's Lynn.

'Our aim will be to work very closely with the local residents and the local community and ensure that there is transparency in all our operations.'

Alleged 'omissions and inaccuracies' in the environmental statement accompanying the planning application were one of the 12 objections upheld by councillors.

They included the impact of the site upon the landscape, the way in which alternatives were assessed, the impact of possible acidification on the nearby Roydon Common nature reserve and the site's location on the western edge of Norfolk.

Yesterday's meeting was told the Environment Agency has now formally objected to the incinerator proposals on grounds of flood risk. It states flood modelling used to assess the risks to the site was out of date.

An additional concern - the amount of water abstracted from the nearby River Ouse or Relief Channel - was added, increasing the number of objections to 13.

The biggest cheer of the morning was reserved for board chairman Vivienne Spikings who said: 'If it's not in Norwich, it's out of sight and out of mind.'

She claimed that an earlier proposed site at Costessey, near Norwich, had better transport links, but was 'near Norwich' and rejected.

West Winch councillor June Leamon said she was concerned for her ward which included the A10 and Hardwick roundabout.

'There is already daily congestion and this wil add to the pollution,' she said. 'Several years ago the A10 had a noise level survey which show levels over World Health Organisation recommended levels - and that was years ago.'

Anti-incinerator campaigner Richard Burton said the visual impact statement in the application was 'seriously flawed'.

'It seems more designed to obscure the true impact,' he said. The proposed stack of the incinerator would measure 85m.

Councillors also backed a recommendation calling on the secretary of state to 'call in' the application, because of the way the contract to build and operate the plant was awarded.

Last night a Norfolk County Council spokesman said: 'We look forward to receiving the response from West Norfolk council and we welcome all responses to the Willows planning application.

'All opinions and comments received will be considered as part of the county council's standard planning procedures.' The county council has announced official consultation has been be extended by two weeks and run until Wednesday, August 17.

Officials said the deadline had been extended because of the level of interest in the application.

Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: 'The consultation on the planning application is well under way and many people have been visiting the application web pages and responding.

'We understand that the complexity of all the information means it can take time to consider properly and that is very much what we want to happen.

'We have already doubled the statutory period of consultation from three weeks to six weeks but we have been hearing from colleagues in King's Lynn and from several parish councils that a longer period is needed.'

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