Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has waded into the King’s Lynn incinerator row with a dramatic intervention which could ultimately result in the plans being ditched.
Pickles has ordered Norfolk County Council not to issue the project planning permission until his department has given the project “proper consideration”.
A Department for Communities & Local Government spokesman said: “The department has received a number of representations asking for this application to be called-in.
“We have issued an Article 25 notification on this planning application while we assess whether or not to do so, so we can give the matter proper consideration.”
An Article 25 direction, under the Town and Country Planning Act, prevents any action being taken on a planning application while the department considers whether or not to call it in.
Cory Environmental and Wheelabrator Technologies submitted a planning application for the Willows Power and Recycling Centre EfW plant at Saddlebow in June last year but the plans have been dogged by local opposition.
That opposition, both from the public and politicians, recently intensified in the run-up to a crucial planning at the council on 29 June.
According to local paper the Eastern Daily Press, hundreds of members of the public are expected to attend the meeting, where objectors will be allowed three minutes each to speak.
The paper said a 570-page report to councillors says that of 8,375 responses received from the public, 7,609 objected to the building the Saddlebow plant.
All nine Norfolk MPs have called for Mr Pickles to call in the decision.
Norfolk CC cabinet member for planning and transportation Graham Plant, said: “We had anticipated that this would be a step the Government was likely to take to give itself time to consider a very substantial planning application.
“We had already sent the Committee report and appendices to DCLG
“Like the County Council, the Government will want to ensure they have considered all the issues very carefully.
“We have always made it clear that the County Council will provide every assistance if DCLG decides to review the decision, or call in the application for the Secretary of State to decide. We are entirely confident in the procedures that have been followed.
“The Government clearly expects the County Council to make a decision, however we have been asked not to issue a decision notice until the Secretary of State has been able to review matters.
“This means that the committee will consider the application on 29 June,but if it decides to approve, a decision notice will not be issued until the Secretary of State has completed a review and decided whether it should be referred to him for determination.”