MPs call for Norfolk County Council to scrap incinerator

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

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

It is time for Norfolk County Council to pull the plug on the controversial contract for an incinerator in King's Lynn - according to two of the county's MPs.

Henry Bellingham and Elizabeth Truss say the council should take advantage of the delay to the project, caused by the lack of a decision by communities secretary Eric Pickles on the plant's planning permission, to ditch the scheme.

But George Nobbs, the leader of Norfolk County Council, has accused the MPs of 'desperation' and said a free vote at County Hall had led to a decision to push ahead with the plant, to be built and run by Cory Wheelabrator.

In a letter, the Conservative MPs for North West Norfolk and South West Norfolk, say there are better options available than the incinerator proposed for Saddlebow.

They say: 'Opportunities to end this expensive project have already been missed, and we are fortunate that the Secretary of State's action to delay his planning decision has given Norfolk County Council time to reconsider public opposition and this uneconomical project.

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'We therefore urge Norfolk County Council to take advantage of the delay and cancel the project. At a minimum, the council must take this opportunity to make public the details on which the contract was awarded to Cory Wheelabrator, and allow proper scrutiny of the use of public money by the people of Norfolk.'

The pair say they are 'encouraged' by the Material Works project to recycle and process 35,000 tonnes of residual and food waste.

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King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, has signed a 16-year contract Material Works, while the company recently announced it has £100m of funding for the project.

The MPs say that, in the shorter term, waste could be dealt with at an incinerator at Amsterdam, by Peterborough-based Green Energy Parks or at Suffolk County Council's incinerator at Great Blakenham.

But Mr Nobbs, the leader of the Labour/Liberal Democrat administration at Norfolk County Council, said: 'Their letter smacks of desperation. I cannot believe that they are on the same planet as the rest of us.

'The council decided by a free vote, something the previous Conservative administration refused to do, to continue with the revised project plan. The council has made its decision.'

The council said costs were rising because of the delay, but that the Material Works proposal was years away from becoming a reality.

David Harrison, cabinet member for environment and waste previously said he was 'very sceptical' about the Material Works scheme.

He said: 'We need a decision from Mr Pickles as a matter of urgency and it should be one made on planning grounds. The issue should not be confused by alternative technologies which may, or may not, come to fruition in the future.'

• What's your view on the incinerator saga? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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