Cory Wheelabrator has formally signed a deal with Norfolk County Council to build and run the controversial King’s Lynn incinerator.
The plant will take nearly 270,000 tonnes of residual and commercial waste that is currently being landfilled and generate enough electricity to power 36,000 homes.
Signing of the deal follows fierce local opposition to the proposals and a protracted row over £91m of PFI credits eventually released by Defra to help fund the scheme.
A joint statement from Cory Environmental chief executive officer Peter Gerstrom and Wheelabrator managing director Gary Aguinaga said the consortium was “delighted” to reach financial close.
The statement added: “This is a major step forward in delivering a sustainable solution to Norfolk’s waste problem, as well as creating job opportunities for local people, suppliers and businesses.
“We are now working towards securing the planning and permitting permissions. We will also continue to work positively with all statutory authorities and Norfolk residents to ensure that our proposals undergo full and proper scrutiny.”
The consortium said the plant would save Norfolk council tax payers more than £8m a year, provide up to 300 jobs during its construction and bring in millions of pounds to the regional economy through the purchase of local goods and services.
Last month a Tory-led district council announced it would legally challenge Defra’s decision to part-fund the project, claiming financial arrangements impeded fair debate.
Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk leader Nick Daubney said the county council, which approved the plans, had conflicted interests as it faced a bill of £20m if the deal fell through because of a break clause.
The borough council has passed a motion to proceed with legal action against the government’s decision to release the PFI credits. The council will appeal for a judicial review and for communities secretary Eric Pickles to call in the scheme for determination.
The council motion said: “This Council reiterates its belief (as determined at Council on 17 March 2011) that financial arrangements in place between Norfolk County Council and the preferred contractors impede open and fair debate during the planning process.”