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Norfolk County Council could face double legal challenge over Saddlebow EfW decision

Norfolk County Council could face two separate judicial reviews over the decision to award a PFI contract for a controversial 268,000 tonnes per year energy-from-waste (EfW) facility to Cory Wheelabrator.

Legal representatives have written to the county council on behalf of anti-EfW campaigners King’s Lynn Without Incineration (KLWIN) to notify it that the pursuit of a judicial review claim over the decision to award the contract to the consortium was “likely”.

Further opposition to the decision will come from King’s Lynn and West Norfolk borough council, who have set aside a fund of £150,000 to legally oppose the county council’s plans.

Borough council leader Cllr Nicholas Daubney told MRW: “We took a decision at a formal meeting of the full council to oppose the county council regarding the building of this plant. We also had permission from the council to use financial resource to fund our objection to that, which could well include judicial review.

“There are two possibilities there – a judicial review on the procurement process, or there could be one on the planning process depending on whether we’re satisfied that’s handled in the right way.”

The decision to award Cory Wheelabrator the contract for the construction of the facility in Saddlebow, near King’s Lynn has met with significant public opposition.

A poll conducted by the borough council found that 92% of the 70,763 respondents opposed the proposal to build a “mass burn incinerator” and in recent days, environment secretary Caroline Spelman has written to the county council over the issue.

King’s Lynn Without Incineration (KLWIN) committee member Michael de Whalley told MRW: “I’m reliably informed it [the letter] states that Norfolk County Council need to demonstrate to Defra and Caroline Spelman there is a broad consensus of public support for this waste incinerator, but the campaign groups and more than 65,000 people in west Norfolk who opposed it think they’re going to have quite a job finding that evidence.  Even if they put it across the whole of Norfolk, it’s unlikely they’ll get the approval they seek.”

A Defra spokesman confirmed that a letter had been sent to the county council “in light of local concerns about the project” and that the department has asked Norfolk County Council to “continue to ensure that the project continues to meet all of our PFI criteria including one on consultation and consensus”.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “We can confirm that the council has received notification of action being taken to seek judicial review of the decision taken by Cabinet on 7 March 2011 to award the waste PFI contract. The county council has complete confidence in the process it followed in deciding to award this contract.”

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