Views of public and parish councils revealed as consultation over King’s Lynn incinerator plan closes

Campaigners battling plans to build an incinerator in King's Lynn were claiming a moral victory last night as consultation on the planning application ended.

Some 85pc of the responses which have so far been made public were opposed to the 'energy from waste' scheme at Saddlebow.

Fifty-three of the 72 town and parish councils whose responses have been published on the county council's website were also against the incinerator, although the views of hundreds more remained unknown last night.

Norfolk County Council has received more than 2,000 responses to the consultation.

Around a quarter of responses received have so far been published, in a consultation which has also attracted a 'large amount' of letters.

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But campaigners claim that if the numbers seen so far are representative of the overall consultation, the scheme can not demonstrate the 'broad consensus' required to obtain the �169m in Private Finance Initiative (PFI) credits needed to build it.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman wrote to the county council in May expressing her concern at the strength of opposition to the plant, which the county hopes to build using a PFI deal.

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To qualify for PFI credits, schemes must show a 'broad consensus' of support. But the county council insisted the letter did not change its position.

Speaking as the consultation closed, anti-incinerator campaigner Mike Knights said: 'I hope as much as anything not only does this send a strong message to the county council but also to DEFRA that in no way can the county council be seen to meet DEFRA's criteria.

'They are required to show broad consensus. It was obvious before this consultation that they didn't have it and this consultation has proved yet again that they still don't have it.'

Of the 72 responses from councils published so far, 53 objected, while 10 were in favour and 16 said they either wished to make no comment or were neutral about the plan.

While Norfolk County Council has received more than 1,200 responses to its public consultation, just over 300 of them had been added to its website by the time it closed last night.

Just under a third of those came from town and parish councils. The county council wrote to more than 400 local councils across the county inviting them to comment on the formal planning application to build the plant at Saddlebow.

It remained unclear last night how many more had responded - or what their views were.

Lisa Powell, clerk to Hunstanton Town Council, urged local councils across the county to support the campaign against the incinerator.

'There is a high probability that it would pose a threat to the health of people in King's Lynn and its environs, particularly to those with breathing difficulties and those living down wind of the incinerator,' Ms Powell wrote.

'We are concerned that cleaner solutions for dealing with waste have not been fully explored and there should be more emphasis on recycling and alternative less hazardous technologies.

'The transportation of waste from all over Norfolk and possibly from over the county boundary via heavy goods vehicles would also increase air and noise pollution locally, clog already-congested highways and increase carbon emissions.'

Ten local councils wrote to the county council to show their support for the application.

Deborah Sarson, clerk to Diss Town Council, wrote: 'The town council considered the wider benefits of the development, the desperate need for sustainable alternatives to landfill and the employment it will provide, amongst others.

'These were all felt to be positive contributors to Norfolk's long term aim to reduce carbon emissions and decrease dependence on landfill.

'It is recognised that there has been much local opposition to this facility and councillors considered whether they would object should it be proposed to locate it in the local area to Diss.

'It was felt, on balance, that given the positive benefits as outline above, that it would be unlikely they would object to the principle.'

The county council last night said it had received more than 1,200 electronic representations and was still working through a 'large amount of paper letters'.

A county council spokesman said it did not wish to comment on the amount of councils who were in favour or against the plan.

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