New protest planned over Wisbech incinerator

Campaigners rally against Wisbech incinerator in town centre

A previous WisWin rally in Wisbech - Credit: Terry Harris

A protest is to be held against plans for an incinerator in Wisbech, amid fears over its health impact. 

Protestors from the WisWin [Wisbech Without Incineration] campaign group will gather outside County Hall at 9am on March 28, ahead of a Norfolk County Council (NCC) meeting. 

MVV Environment Ltd wants to build the £300m energy-generating plant - called the Medworth incinerator - on Algores Way in the Cambridgeshire town, just over the border from Norfolk.

NCC is the only authority out of the four being consulted not yet to have objected to the proposal.

In December 2021, a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Air Pollution called for a moratorium on all new large-scale waste incinerators

The APPG heard evidence from several experts, including one presentation showing how metals linked with acute childhood leukaemia had been discovered in the toenails of children living near incinerators.

Another study found dioxins in chicken eggs up to 10km from incinerators that emit them.

Independent councillor Alexandra Kemp is now calling for NCC to debate a motion pledging support for the APPG’s call, in effect declaring opposition to the Wisbech project. 

The local election count at the Corn Exchange in King's Lynn. Cllr Alexandra Kemp was elected to the

Independent county councillor Alexandra Kemp - Credit: Ian Burt

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Supported by four Liberal Democrat councillors - Rob Colwell, Saul Penfold, Lucy Shires and Brian Watkins - Ms Kemp has written to council chair Penny Carpenter requesting a so-called Extraordinary General Meeting, for her motion to be debated. 

NCC has denied conventional requests from Ms Kemp to debate it, because it is deemed too similar and too recent to a September 2021 debate. 

On that occasion, a majority voted not to object to the project, with Conservative council leader Andrew Proctor saying members should wait to see the actual plans. 

But Ms Kemp, who represents Clenchwarton and King's Lynn South, argues her motion is different, because of the APPG’s findings.

She said refusing a new debate showed "a lack of responsibility to protect Norfolk in light of the changing science”.

A spokesperson for MVV said the company will request permission for the incinerator from secretary of state Kwasi Kwarteng “in the next few months”. 

In December, MVV said of the APPG’s findings: “At first glance it seems the APPG has only considered evidence from a narrow field of people who have consistently maintained an anti-incineration position over many years.”

They pointed to research from Public Health England, which suggested that "any health effects, if discernible, would be very small".