Protest in Downham Market against West Norfolk incinerator plan

Campaigners battling against a scheme to build a waste incinerator in West Norfolk took to the streets of Downham Market at the weekend to protest.

A small group wearing fancy dress took up position outside the Tesco store in the town from 10am on Saturday to hand out leaflets and talk to townspeople.

Residents were also encouraged to come along to a public meeting in the Town Hall at 7.30pm on Tuesday to learn more about the proposed 'energy from waste' plant on the edge of King's Lynn.

Anti-incinerator campaigner Bernie Barclay, who lives just outside the town in Shouldham, said: 'The more people who know about the meeting, the more people who will come and have a better understand of the plan.

'The people who stopped and spoke to us were mostly supportive of what we are doing and we had a lot of parents stop to talk because they are concerned about the health of their children.

'I hope there will be a good turnout at the meeting and we can have an open discussion about it. I want people to be able to have the chance to ask questions and be heard.'

The high school teacher added: 'People often say to me 'what can I do' and I always reply one person can only do so much, two people can do more but a group of ten determined people can achieve anything.'

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Fellow campaigner Carol Hunter, who lives in Stoke Ferry, near Downham Market, said the county council should look at other options instead of incineration.

She said: 'There are better options like recycle, reuse and reclaim which will really help tackle the waste problem we have.

'The incinerator won't address the problem because we are clearly using more than we can sustain so I want to encourage people to start taking care of their waste.

'There is a recycling and reusing centre in Spain which has created 1,000 jobs and has become an important part of the community.

'We need to create more jobs and a similar centre would be would work really well in Norfolk.'

She added: 'An incinerator is also an ineffective way of producing electricity and I think calling it an energy from waste plant is quite misleading.'

The scheme would see a purpose-built energy from waste plant capable of treating 170,000 of black bin waste built on a purpose built site on the Saddlebow industrial estate.

Norfolk County Council has selected Anglo-US firm Cory Wheelabrator as its preferred bidder to construct an incinerator at the site and has secured �169m of PFI credits from the government.

Council figures show, however, that the likely projected costs to council tax payers over the life of the 25-year scheme is about �500m, or around an average of �20m a year.

John Preston, who also lives in Stoke Ferry, said: 'I thought having a incinerator built in King's Lynn was a bad idea straight away.

'But it was only when I attended a public meeting about a month ago that it was clear that this is a stupid idea health wise.

'It is also a stupid idea from an economic point of view and is not a great way to deal with our waste.

'What I find strange is that it is up to the people to prove it is bad.

'It's not up to the council to put forward a case and I feel unless the council can prove it's 100pc safe then we shouldn't have it.'

In contrast, supporters believe that the incinerator will not only help tackle the county's waste mountain, but will also be able to produce energy which could provide power to 36,000 homes.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman added: 'We have relied upon the assurance of Government departments and independent agencies including DEFRA, the Health Protection Agency and the Environment Agency that well-run modern energy from waste plants are safe.'