New twist in bid to stop incinerator on edge of King’s Lynn

Campaigners have welcomed a decision by West Norfolk Council to launch a legal challenge against the release of government funding to build an incinerator in King's Lynn.

The latest twist in the fight against the Saddlebow project saw borough councillors vote unanimously in favour of starting court action against environment secretary Caroline Spelman's decision to approve a �91m Waste Infrastructure (WI) grant for the plant.

The minister had withheld funds for the �500m Saddlebow scheme because she wanted convincing there was a 'broad consensus' for the waste strategy.

West Norfolk Council claims the decision to approve the grant could not be justified given that 65,000 people voted against the plant in a poll last year.

Last night, anti-incinerator campaigner Mike Knights said: 'We are very happy with the way the borough council are going about this. It is clear that councillors care about what the people who voted them into their position want.'

He added: 'We would have explored launching a legal challenge on this decision had the council not done so.'

Mrs Spelman announced in November she was withholding the grant and told County Hall she wanted to see more evidence of 'broad support' for its proposed waste strategy.

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That led to a number of district councils writing letters to Mrs Spelman supporting the waste strategy, though West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney and some opposition leaders on district councils pleaded with her not to be swayed.

A barrister and specialist planning solicitors have been engaged by the authority, which has set aside a �150,000 fighting fund for the legal challenge.

In Mrs Spelman's letter to county council leader Derrick Murphy after approving the grant, she said: 'We consider that 'broad consensus' does allow for some dissent and does not in particular require unanimity among the interested local authorities.'

She added she hoped the county council would share her 'continuing concern that the project is generating such strong negative feelings locally' and urged all local authorities and the contractor to put 'fresh effort into working constructively'.

The county council says the plant is needed to prevent the county's waste having to go to landfill. It says it will save millions of pounds a year.

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