Question marks hang over King’s Lynn “greener” waste deal

Robert Billson, from Material Works (left), signs the contract with Brian Long back in 2012

Robert Billson, from Material Works (left), signs the contract with Brian Long back in 2012 - Credit: Archant

Question marks hang over the future of a green solution to dealing with West Norfolk's waste.

While controversy still raged over the Saddlebow incinerator, the borough council signed a contract with a company called Material Works.

The 16-year deal, signed in December 2012, was to process 35,000 tonnes of waste a year.

Two years on, Chester-based Material Works insists it is 'confident' it will still be able to deliver. But councillors have been warned the company may need more time.

They are due to discuss a progress report on the waste plant behind closed doors tomorrrow night, amid growing frustration at the lack of progress. Neither the council or Material Works would be drawn on the detail of the report.

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But in a statement, Material Works said: 'Recent activity has centered on the identification of a demonstrator plant, and a site for the company's main operational facility.

'Such sites have been identified, both in Norfolk, and we are currently involved in a number of confidential negotiations.

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'We remain wholly committed to the contract and its terms. Should we feel some additional time to fulfill the contract's requirements is needed, we shall raise this with the borough council as appropiate, but this is yet to be considered.'

When the contract was signed, it was claimed that it would provide taxpayers with a viable and cost effective, long term alternative way of dealing with waste.

Supporters claimed Material Works's process - which uses a form of anaerobic digestion to turn so called 'black bin' waste into an inert plastic - was more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective than the Saddlebow incinerator.

The £500m burner plan was scrapped in March, after a bitter political row which saw the Conservatives lose control of Norfolk County Council and the authority facing a £30m compensation bill. Almost two years on, Materials Works's demonstration plant has failed to materialise. One of the conditions of its contract with the council has that a demonstration plant would be operational by mid-December.

A statement is expected after tomorrrow night's meeting.

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