Closing submissions under way at King’s Lynn incinerator public inquiry

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

The proposed site of the incinerator at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Residents at the closing of the public inquiry into the King's Lynn incinerator applauded as the campaign group against the bid said the 'very clear strength of feeling displayed by the local people' meant the plan should be ditched.

In her closing submission, Carla Goodyear, for King's Lynn Without Incineration (KLWIN), said: 'In light of everything that has happened at this inquiry, KLWIN respectfully submit that the inspector does recommend that the secretary of state refuses the planning permission.'

For the past 11 weeks KLWIN and West Norfolk Borough Council (WNBC), who both oppose the scheme, have battled for the ear of planning inspector Elizabeth Hill against the applicants, Cory Wheelabrator, and Norfolk County Council, which favours the bid.

After hours of written evidence, expert statements, cross-examinations and questions from members of the public, matters finally came to a head yesterday when each of the parties involved was invited to make one last statement to Ms Hill before she went away to make her decision.

Speaking first, Miss Goodyear highlighted a WNBC poll in which 65,516 people 'loudly said no to the incinerator'.

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She added: 'Recent government guidance makes it clear public concern is a material planning consideration. The borough council poll was a justifiable way for the public to demonstrate their concern. They did so and now feel they were not listened to. If the Willows incinerator were granted planning permission, the facility would be seen as a constant oppressive reminder of the failure of the democratic process.'

Speaking later for WNBC, Nathalie Lieven QC accused Cory Wheelabrator of trying to 'downgrade' the vote by 'relying on the fact there was no set text putting the positive arguments for the development'.

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Ms Lieven said: 'It is frankly a little insulting for Cory Wheelabrator to suggest voters taking the trouble to vote in a local poll did not take the time to inform themselves to a reasonable degree about the issue upon which they are voting.

'The poll must be seen by the secretary of state for what it was – a compelling and informed local statement by voters of the borough that they are vehemently opposed to the development proposals.'

Neil Cameron QC, representing Norfolk County Council, said that although a wide range of issues had been discussed, the hearing was 'not a general inquiry into wider waste management issues, whether in Norfolk or further afield'.

He added: 'Considerations should be limited to land use planning and, in particular, whether the proposed development is an acceptable use of the land.'

Miss Goodyear emphasised that KLWIN, as an independent campaign group which has to rely on public donations for its funding, had 'extremely limited resources in order to present their case'.

She added: 'It should be reiterated that their silence on any area that has been covered in this inquiry does not relate to acceptance of those points but rather, due to their limited resources, they have only been able to concentrate on a few areas.'

It said it was 'not persuaded' by Cory Wheelabrator's reassurance about air quality.

However Mr Cameron said: 'A striking fact in this case is that independent experts who have investigated the proposal in detail have come to the conclusion that the proposal will not give rise to specific unacceptably adverse impacts on people, or on flora or on fauna.'

Cory Wheelabrator will be called to sum up today.

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