Should Secretary of State decide King’s Lynn incinerator plan, asks new report

A new report to councillors in West Norfolk says the decision over the controversial incinerator plan should be made by the Secretary of State, not the county council, as the war of words continues.

The increasingly bitter political debate has sparked a legal challenge and calls for an external inquiry into the way decisions were arrived at by Norfolk County Council's ruling Tory group.

Now a report to West Norfolk councillors is calling for the decision over the incinerator to be taken out of the hands of the county council.

'There are concerns over the ability of the county council to deal objectively with this application,' the report to West Norfolk's development control board states.

'Norfolk County Council is the PFI-partner to Cory Wheelabrator, which has lodged the application. If the application is not passed, Norfolk County Council will be liable to pay a �20.3m penalty to Cory Wheelabrator.

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'The risk of its decision being tainted by the appearance of bias has only been heightened by the recent disclosure

that Conservative county councillors met prior to the county council's March 7 cabinet meeting to determine how, en bloc, they would vote on the award of the PFI

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contract to Cory Wheelabrator. They did vote to award it to Cory Wheelabrator.

'Unless called-in by the Secretary of State, the matter will be determined by a committee of Norfolk County councillors.

'Compared with a local public inquiry, that is not a forum in which the planning merits of the application can be fully tested and in which interested parties can make substantial and detailed contributions.

'Given these concerns, representations have been made to the Secretary of State to call the application in for his determination.'

Council leader Nick Daubney has also requested a meeting

with Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, to 'set the record straight'.

Leaked minutes of a meeting of the county council's Conservative group have sparked calls for an independent enquiry.

The new report also sets out the council's objections to the incinerator in detail. They include claims that the incinerator proposal is contrary to government policies, would discourage investment in the area, would be built in an area at high risk of flooding and damage important wildlife habitats.

The lengthy report begins by setting out the rationale behind the incinerator proposal, as detailed in the supporting planning statement lodged with the planning application.

These are summarised on the right. You can also follow the links to read the development control board report in full, or explore the full planning application and supporing statements on Norfolk County Council's website.

The development control board report claims the incinerator fails to meet national policy and regulation, which requires that waste is reduced, reused or recycled prior to recovery.

'The size of the incinerator fails to meet sustainability criteria due to its location on the extreme west of the county and therefore does not support the proximity principle of dealing with waste where it arises,' it adds.

'The scale and the location of the facility will also draw in waste from across the borders of the county and squeeze out recycling and other more sustainable forms of waste treatment in neighbouring counties who plan to deal with their own waste.'

The report states if built, the incinerator would harm future investment in West Norfolk, particularly on the part of the food industry.

It adds: 'Although difficult to quantify at the moment because of lack of evidence supplied with the application, the loss of potential employment resulting from the negative perceptions associated with the proposed development could be far greater than the small employment benefits provided by it.'

The report also states the proposed development is in an area at 'high risk of flooding' and deposits would pose the risk of acidifcation to Roydon Common - a nature reserve and SSSI near King's Lynn.

Councillors on the development control board - formerly the planning committee - are set to meet on Monday, July 25, to discuss the report. The meeting, which begins at 10am, is being held at King's Lynn Corn Exchange.

If agreed, the council's comments will be forwarded to the county council as part of the planning process, which has also seen the county council invite parish councils across Norfolk to submit their comments.

In a statement, Norfolk County Council said: 'We welcome all responses to the Willows planning application. All opinions and comments received will be considered as part of the county council's standard planning procedures.

'There is still time for people to have their say as the official consultation runs until Wednesday, August 3.'

Follow the links above to view and comment on the application online.

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