Update: West Norfolk Council could pull out of waste partnership over incinerator row

Legal delaying tactics and a threat to withdraw from a waste partnership emerged tonight (Thursday) as the next stage of the bitter battle over Norfolk's proposed incinerator was entered.

Legal delaying tactics and a threat to withdraw from a waste partnership emerged last night as the next stage of the bitter battle over Norfolk's proposed incinerator was entered.

West Norfolk council unanimously backed a decision by its own ruling cabinet earlier in the day to set aside �200,000 to fund a legal challenge against Norfolk County Council, which wants to build the facility at Saddlebow, of the edge of King's Lynn.

West Norfolk is also to look at withdrawing from the Norfolk Waste Partnership which, the cabinet meeting was told, had 'faltered'. The partnership includes authorities across Norfolk and aims to reduce landfill waste and encourage recycling.

Around 50 members of the public attended the special evening meeting in Lynn's Town Hall, where council leader Nick Daubney told members: 'I promise we will listen and take advice, and if we are told that the county council has called this correctly, then the money will not be spent.'

He said the meeting followed an earlier decision by the council to express its opposition to the incinerator, adding: 'I think that may have been the very first time I have witnessed a unanimous vote in the chamber.'

Mr Daubney also said that the council would need access to the best legal advice before proceeding, together with independent experts –which is why the money needed to be set aside.

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A protracted legal battle may, in itself, halt the proposals in their tracks.

'We may not be able to stop it, but we can slow it down and the county council elections are in only another two years,' said Ian Mack, giving a clear message that delaying the whole process could see the proposal disappear.

While backing the council's stance, he said the decision to site an incinerator in the county had been taken by the county council a year ago and felt the fight should have started earlier.

Former council leader John Dobson said three West Norfolk county councillors were faced with 'the biggest decision for 20 years' as members of a county scrutiny committee which is due to meet on Tuesday.

The committee can force the whole issue to be debated by the county council and Michael Langwade, Richard Rockcliffe and Jean Mickleburgh are the West Norfolk delegation.

'I would suggest that everyone contacts those three councillors to make sure that happens,' he said.

'The whole thing could be dead next Tuesday.'

The meeting also heard calls for the resignation of the leadership of the county council, with David Collis accusing the authority of 'disregarding the health and welfare of this community'.

He said the leadership of the county council should 'be taken to task without delay,' and added that there should be resignations.

It also emerged that West Norfolk council is beginning to look at alternatives to identify local solutions.

Mr Daubney said if recycling rates could be improved and other solutions found, there may be no need for an incinerator at all.

More than 65,000 people voted against the the plans to build the 'energy-from-waste' plant at Saddlebow in a poll conducted by West Norfolk council.

However, Norfolk County Council's cabinet decided in March to award Anglo-American consortium Cory Wheelabrator the contract to build and run the plant.

The county says it has followed 'best practice' and the plan has ministerial backing.

But a report setting out the case for a legal challenge says agreeing a �20m penalty clause with Cory if the incinerator does not go ahead could be grounds for a judicial review.

Mr Daubney said: 'You can't undermine the fact 65,000 people voted and said they did not want this incinerator. We are a community and we have to act in the best interests of this community.'

Brian Long, who also sits on the county council, said he fully supported the legal move.

He told the meeting the county council had acted in a 'deplorable' way.

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