No quick fix for dealing with Norfolk’s waste

Great Blakenham incinerator, where Norfolk's waste is being sent to be burned. Picture: Mike Page.

Great Blakenham incinerator, where Norfolk's waste is being sent to be burned. Picture: Mike Page.

A long-term solution for how to deal with Norfolk's rubbish might not be in place until after 2020, councillors will be told next week.

Norfolk County Council has to deal with around 390,000 tonnes of household waste a year, so the decision to scrap plans for an incinerator which could have handled almost half of that left a large gap.

Opponents of the hugely controversial plant at Saddlebow breathed a sigh of relief when Norfolk county councillors voted by 48 votes to 30, to pull the plug on the contract earlier this year.

But, with the council spending £22m a year on disposal, it has left questions over where waste will go.

For now, the county council has struck a deal with Suffolk County Council to send 40,000 tonnes of Norfolk's residual household waste – the rubbish left after recycling – to a new incinerator at Great Blakenham.

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But that is not a long-term fix and a group of councillors and officers – the waste advisory group – was set up to find a way forward.

At a meeting of the county council's environment, development and transport committee tomorrow, the group's recommendations will be put forward.

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Chaired by UK Independence Party group leader Toby Coke, one of the first acts of the group was to make a recommendation Norfolk will not accept a mass burn incinerator.

Last month a conference was held at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, with experts and industry leaders invited to showcase possible ways Norfolk could deal with its waste. A 2nd conference is due to take place next year.

The group is suggesting three phases. Arrangements are in place for the next two years, but after that attempts would be made to use other existing waste facilities outside Norfolk, along with landfill in the county.

But the longer term solutions for beyond 2020 would be determined after 2015 and officers acknowledged that, after two previous attempts to build an incinerator failed, the waste industry might be 'wary' of coming forward unless the council's specifications were 'very clear'.

How do you think Norfolk should deal with its waste? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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