Plea for government funding to be withheld for Norfolk incinerator plan

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has been urged to withhold government funding for a controversial plan to build an incinerator on the outskirts of the town.

The King's Lynn Civic Society has written a letter to the MP because it believes the plan to build an 'energy from waste' plant at Saddlebow should not get financial backing because it does not have the support of people in West Norfolk.

It comes after a referendum, organised by West Norfolk council, saw more than 65,000 people take part with 92pc voting against the scheme.

The letter also comes after the environment secretary wrote to Norfolk County Council last month offering politicians more time to show public support for the proposal, which would be built under a �169m PFI (Private Finance Initiative) deal.

Writing on behalf of the group, Sally Smith, the society's secretary, said: 'This society can assure you that far from there being support for [the scheme], there is overwhelming opposition.

'Not only has this been demonstrated by the referendum held by West Norfolk council {but] ever since the proposal was announced last autumn, opposition has increased continually despite numerous events and public meetings to 'inform' the local population.

'This is evidenced in constant letters to the press, again overwhelming in their opposition, and posters displayed throughout the vicinity opposing the plant.

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'This society's opposition is over the negative effect that an EFWF [energy from waste facility] will have upon the overall waste strategy in the county.

'Such a plant demands a level of waste to ensure its operation and this precludes the need to concentrate upon recycling, which it is our belief that the county's waste strategy should be centred upon.

'We are also concerned that, located as it is on the very western perimeter of the county, waste will have be transported the furthest possible distance for disposal. We intend to formally object to the planning application.'

County Hall officials, however, believe the proposal offers the best way to dispose of Norfolk's waste.

Norfolk County Council has also voted to award the contract to build and run the incinerator to Anglo-US consortium Cory Wheelabrator, which has now submitted a planning application.

Mrs Smith's letter continued: 'At present Norfolk County Council is undertaking a consultation exercise, which involves the entire county, the purpose of which is to assure you that the wider public in Norfolk accepts the need for this development.

'You may feel that this is only right and proper and will indicate the true level of support – or otherwise – of the whole Norfolk community.

'If this is so, we ask you to reconsider and to state just what constitutes 'local' in this instance.

'Do communities such as Cromer, Thetford or Norwich, all more than 40 miles from King's Lynn, to say nothing of Yarmouth well over sixty miles away, be regarded as 'local'?'

This letter comes after campaigners battling to halt the plan started legal proceedings by serving notice on the county council signalling an intention to challenge the decision to award the contract for this project.

The action is being taken because campaigners claim the county council had not followed the appropriate steps in awarding the contract to Cory Wheelabrator.

But County Hall has said the council has 'complete confidence' in the process it followed.

This letter also comes after West Norfolk council leader Nick Daubney requested a meeting with the environment secretary because he believes that she is being led to believe there is a broad consensus of support for the county's waste strategy.

Mr Daubney has also urged residents to make sure they made their views known through the planning consultation process.

Cory Wheelabrator's planning application is now available on Norfolk County Council's website www.norfolk.gov.uk.

Issues that planners can take into account include noise impact, dust, smell, air pollution and health, traffic congestion, road safety, flood risk, trees and wildlife, design and landscape, and ground conditions.

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