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King’s Lynn calls for Eric Pickles to adjudicate “undemocratic” EfW decision by its own county council

The borough council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk have called on Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to call in an “undemocratic” decision by Norfolk County Council to press ahead with the development of a 170,000 tonne energy from waste facility, after a poll revealed 92% of respondents opposed the plan.

In a special meeting of the borough council, councillors recommended to condemn the decision by the county council to continue with the procurement, oppose what they termed a “mass burn incinerator” and called on Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to determine the decision of planning application for the facility - which has not yet been lodged.

At the meeting, Council leader Cllr Nicholas Daubney said: “I did not stand as a political representative to help ram down the throats of over 65,000 people an incinerator they never asked for and do not want. 60% of people participated in this poll, that’s higher than the turnout for the general election. Ignoring that degree of public opinion demonstrates an arrogant disregard for democracy.”

The criticism follows a borough-wide local poll which asked residents of west Norfolk whether they supported the proposal to build a “mass burn incinerator”. The poll received a turnout of 61.3%, with 70,763 votes cast, 65,516 of which opposed the construction of the facility (92%).

According to a spokesman from Norfolk County Council, the council was advised to play no part in defending the technology ahead of the poll, so as not to compromise the planning process for the facility.

Following a county council cabinet meeting on 7 March, Norfolk county council cabinet member for sustainable development Ann Steward said: “We have not yet received a planning application, but once one is submitted, two detailed consultations with the public will get underway.

“It is at that stage that the public will have the best opportunity to make their views known. I would encourage people interested in this proposal to do that in the months ahead.

“Our job is to do the right thing for Norfolk people. While I recognise the concerns that have been voiced, we have taken our decision based on the evidence before us, rather than on a flawed poll, which we have heard today contained inaccurate and misleading information.”    

In October 2010 the county council named Cory Wheelabrator as recommended preferred bidders for its waste PFI contract, which would see the consortium build an EfW in Saddlebow, near King’s Lynn, however an environmental permit application has not yet been submitted.

Local opposition group King’s Lynn Without Incineration committee member Michael de Whalley told MRW: “The decision [to continue with the EfW] has added a new dimension, it’s no longer an incinerator issue, it’s now a democratic issue.”

A Cory Wheelabrator consortium spokesman said: “We are of course fully aware that residents, particularly in the King’s Lynn area, have concerns about the proposed facility. In the coming months we will strengthen our existing community engagement and consultation programmes in order to engage further with key stakeholders and local people and do all we can to allay these concerns.”

They added: “A Norfolk wide poll was carried out by ComRes on behalf of Cory Wheelabrator which showed that 65% of Norfolk residents from across the county who were asked broadly welcomed proposals for an Energy from Waste plant.”

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