A controversial Norfolk incinerator project faces a fresh blow after Eric Pickles confirmed he would “call in” the project.
The communities secretary will now decide whether or not the project, being developed by Cory Environmental and Wheelabrator Technologies, will get the go-ahead rather than the local county council – which had already approved the scheme.
A public inquiry into the planning application, chaired by a planning inspector, will now be carried out.
The inspector will then make a recommendation to the secretary of state who will have the final say.
The Department for Communities & Local Government wrote to Norfolk County Council to inform them of the decision on 30 August (see letter attached).
Local government minister Bob Neill told local MPs, who oppose the scheme, the department had received almost 6,000 letters of opposition to the project, according to The Norwich Evening News.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham told the paper: “It doesn’t mean we’re going to win but it does mean we’re going to get a fair hearing.”
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss added: “I’m delighted that the government has made this decision. It’s the right decision. It’s an issue people are very, very concerned about in West Norfolk.”
The development, backed by Norfolk County Council, has been dogged by opposition from district councils, MPs and residents.
Pickles waded into the dispute in June issuing a notification that his department could call in any decision by the county council to grant the plant planning permission.
Last month the county council planning committee gave its final approval.
John Boldon from the Cory Wheelabrator Consortium said: “We are obviously disappointed that the Secretary of State has decided to ‘call in’ the planning consent for the Willows Power and Recycling Centre and has therefore taken the decision out of the hands of Norfolk’s own waste planning authority.
“However, we strongly believe that our proposals will deliver the most sustainable and long-term solution for Norfolk’s significant waste problem. We will now engage positively with the Planning Inspectorate to demonstrate the numerous merits of our application”