What is the future for Norfolk’s waste?

It is one of the most pressing and controversial issues Norfolk faces: just what are we going to do with our county's waste?

And while everyone agrees it is a question that cannot be ducked, the answer very much depends on who you speak to.

Norfolk County Council believes a vital part of the solution lies in the building of an incinerator at Saddlebow on the edge of King's Lynn. Run by Anglo-US consortium Cory Wheelabrator, this 'energy from waste' plant would handle 170,000 tonnes of Norfolk's household waste every year over a 25-year period.

The company and the council maintain that incineration is a safe, value-for-money option that would save the authority at least �200m over the course of the contract, diverting waste from landfill and generating enough energy to power around 36,000 homes, as well as recycling ash for use in the construction industry and recovering metals for recycling. Opponents, meanwhile, claim the incinerator will pose a risk to health, emitting microscopic particles linked with cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and cancer, as well as highly toxic dioxins. They say it will lead to increased traffic and will hamper efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle waste.

Next month people in West Norfolk will be asked their views in a referendum organised by the borough council, and with applications for planning permission and an Environment Agency permit expected in spring, debate is expected to hot up over the summer.

In a week-long series, the EDP will look at what is proposed, taking a balanced view of the cases for and against, examining the alternatives, profiling the company behind the scheme, looking at the political implications and explaining how you can have your say.