UPDATE: County council extends consultation period as West Norfolk Council backs 13 objections to King’s Lynn incinerator plan
The council's development control board met at King's Lynn Corn Exchange this morning to discuss a report on the incinerator proposals while county council decided to extend the deadline.
Norfolk County Council has announced an extension of the consultation period for its controversial planning application to site an 'energy from waste' plant near King's Lynn.
The news came just hours after members of West Norfolk council's development control board unanimously backed a report objecting to the applicaion.
But at a full meeting of the county council today, an extension of consultation until August 17 was announced.
The authority had originally expanded the usual 21-days to six weeks, but has now extended it further.
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'We understand that the complexity of all the information means it can take time to consider properly and that is very much what we want to happen,' said Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation.
But West Norfolk's development control board had already met - the same morning - without knowing about the extension.
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A cheer went up in the auditorium at King's Lynn Corn Exchange when members of West Norfolk's development control board unanimously backed a report objecting to the 'energy from waste' plant at Saddlebow.
Around 100 members of the public watched the meeting this morning when the board discussed the controversial application and called for the final decision to be taken out of the county council's hands because of the way it awarded to contract to build and operate the plant to Cory Wheelabrator.
A damning report into the deal discussed at the meeting said: 'There are concerns over the ability of the county council to deal objectively with this application.
'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.
'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 contract to Cory Wheelabrator. They did vote to award it to Cory Wheelabrator.'
The biggest cheer of the morning was reserved for board chairman Vivienne Spikings who said: 'If it's not in Norwich, it's out of sight and out of mind.'
She claimed that an earlier proposed site at Costessey, near Norwich, had better transport links, but was 'near Norwich' and rejected.
The report originally outlined a dozen objections to the application - but another was added after board member Geoffrey Wareham expressed concerns about potential issues with water extraction from the Relief Channel.
'I am concerned about the water used by the plant. How much and where is it coming from?' he said.
Anti-incinerator campaigner Richard Burton said the visual impact statement in the application was 'seriously flawed'.
'It seems more designed to obscure the true impact,' he said. The proposed stack of the incinerator would measure 85m.
Potential environmental impacts, inlcuding on Roydon Common which is a protected area, were also raised by campaigners.
But the alleged impact on health caused the greatest concern with board member Roy Johnson saying that asbestos was deemed safe - until later research proved otherwise.
'However small the health risks are, they are not insignificant if you are the one affected,' he said.
The meeting comes as campaigners launch a legal bid for a judicial review into the awarding of the contract and opposition councillors claim they were 'leant' on to stifle a motion calling for a public inquiry.
The contract was awarded after more than 65,000 people voted against the incinerator in a poll carried out by West Norfolk council, which has set aside �150,000 for its own legal challenge.