Campaigners insist Norfolk can achieve a 50pc boost in recycling rates without the King’s Lynn incinerator
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Campaigners say Norfolk's recycling rate could increase by almost 50pc without the need for a near-£600m incinerator.
An inquiry into Norfolk County Council's proposals to build a facility to burn at least 170,000 tonnes of rubbish a year at Saddlebow, King's Lynn, will begin next week.
And within the thousands of pages of documents about the case, anti-incinerator campaigners state recycling rates for rubbish thrown out by households could hit 67pc during the 25-year lifetime of the council's £596.9m contract with Cory Wheelabrator.
Collecting a wider range of plastics, glass packaging and textiles from the kerbside, a higher amount of the materials already welcomed for recycling, plus improving sorting at household waste recycling centres will achieve the boost, according to a report compiled for King's Lynn Without Incineration (KLWIN).
The county's recycling rate stood at 45.3pc last year.
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But Norfolk County Council insists it will continue to push for recycling rates to increase if the incinerator, which will also generate electricity, is built. Acting leader Bill Borrett said it is 'total rubbish' to suggest the project will stop recycling.
Mike Knights, of KLWIN, said: 'My own position when I first looked at the project was it would get rid of waste to produce electricity – it does sound like a good thing to do. But when you appreciate how inefficient it is, the side-effects that are still present even with modern technology – I use that term loosely – you look at what the other options are and simply change the way waste is collected, you could drastically reduce any potential justification for this.'
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Opponents will also put forward views on the possible impact on Roydon Common and its ecology and errors in emission data, among other issues.
Cory Environmental will argue a contract clause stating a minimum of 170,000 tonnes a year will be treated by the incinerator will not prejudice county recycling targets. They add it is 'highly unlikely' the council will incur financial penalties for missing this target.
Project backers will also argue a West Norfolk Council poll in which 65,000 people voted against the incinerator 'prevented a balanced case' being put before the electorate as it was sent out before the planning application was submitted.
Professor Jim Bridges is expected to appear to support his view the incinerator is 'most unlikely to cause any significant adverse effects on the health' of the town. This is despite reports he and his wife were victims of an unrelated knife attack during a recent trip to Barbados.
Mr Borrett said the council is doing everything possible to boost recycling rates, including using its cash to encourage district councils to collect food waste and opening more waste recycling centres.
He said: 'All we are trying to do is divert waste away from landfill so hopefully in years to come if 60pc of waste is recycled then great. The bits that can't be recycled go through incineration and generate electricity – none goes to landfill.'
On the inquiry, Mr Borrett said: 'I think it will help flush out some of the facts and dampen down some of the hysteria.'
The inquiry is expected to start next Tuesday before it is adjourned. It is then scheduled to resume on Tuesday, March 5.
Mr Knights said he is happy with the KLWIN case and added: 'I know colleagues have been surprised just how weak the arguments in favour of the incinerator are.'
The documents can be viewed at the West Norfolk Council office in Chapel Street, King's Lynn, or online at www.persona.uk.com/kings_lynn