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King's Lynn incinerator on track despite deal for alternative

Norfolk County Council has said that plans for a controversial incinerator will not be impacted by another council’s plans to use alternative technology to deal with its residual waste.

The county council is planning to send black bag waste to an energy from waste plant at the Willows Business Park in Saddlebow near King’s Lynn. The facility, to be developed by Cory Environmental and Wheelabrator Technologies, has planning permission, but is awaiting the start of a public inquiry in February.

However, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk council, which opposes the incinerator scheme, has signed a 16-year contract with Chester-based firm Material Works to process around 35,000 tonnes of black bag waste per year via an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility.

The borough council said the process was a viable and cost-effective alternative to burning the waste.

Norfolk council said that the deal would not impact on the viability of the incinerator and insisted that there would be enough feedstock for the plant.

Cost-effective alternative

A spokesperson said: “There is plenty of waste in Norfolk and we support anything that increases recycling. The Willows scheme was never intended to deal with all of the residual waste in the area.”

The spokesperson added that Norfolk was only contracted to send 170,000 tonnes for residual household waste to the 268,000 tonne capacity facility with the operator responsible for the rest.

Under the contract with West Norfolk Council, Material Works will develop and operate the AD facility at a yet to be chosen site, and treat the residual waste to produce biogas the generate electricity. The plant will be funded by Material Works and will have a gate fee of £55 per tonne and recycle more than 90% of material, according to the firm.

Brian Long, deputy leader of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Council said: “The initiatives taken by Material Works and the introduction of their technology to us has enabled the council to secure a viable and cost-effective alternative to landfilling of waste, which is more environmentally and financially beneficial for the authority and for our council tax payers”.     

‘Watchful eye’

Material Works’ managing director, Robert Billson, said that a number of preferred sites had been identified and that input of materials would begin in two years.

He said: “The council will only commence payments under the terms of the contract once residual waste has been received, processed and turned into products”.

The Framework contract also allows other councils to enter into similar call-off contracts and Material Works said it would be inviting interest from other authorities.

North Norfolk District Council said that it had no plans for a similar arrangement but a spokesperson said the local authority was “keeping a watchful eye” on the King’s Lynn and Material Works agreement.

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