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County rebuts incinerator 'blackmail' claim

Norfolk County Council has rejected allegations by an MP in an acrimonious row over an incinerator.

Conservative MP Henry Bellingham has told a planning inquiry into the proposed Saddlebow incinerator, near King’s Lynn, that the Conservative-controlled council tried to blackmail him by threatening to remove funding from his North West Norfolk constituency if he persisted in opposing the project.

Henry Bellingham

The Lynn News reports Bellingham (pictured) saying that neighbouring Tory MP Elizabeth Truss was similarly threatened.

Bellingham told the inquiry into Cory Wheelabrator’s incinerator application that the threat to remove funding from his constituency was “tantamount to blackmail”.

He said he would refer the matter to communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles.

Mike Jackson, the county council’s director of environment, transport and development, said Norfolk “does not accept” Bellingham’s version of events.

“The county council is confident in the procedures it has followed in both the procurement and determination of the [incinerator] planning application,” he said. 

The business case was approved by central Government and upheld by the High Court following challenges from objectors, Jackson noted.

“We reject the assertion that the proposed plant will affect economic development in the area, or lead to loss of jobs,” he added.

The inquiry began in February amid local controversy as Kings’ Lynn and West Norfolk District Council, also Conservative-controlled, is supporting the anti-incinerator campaign and has signed a separate waste deal with Material Works to process around 35,000 tonnes of black bag waste per year via an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility.

Elections to the county council take place on 2 May.

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