Norwich City Council has urged the government to block plans for an incinerator in nearby King’s Lynn amid speculation a ministerial decision on the project is imminent.
The council said the project did not fulfil funding criteria, and cited fierce local opposition as a further reason for ministers to withhold private finance initiative credits that are integral to financing the £500m plant.
Council leader Brenda Arthur wrote to environment secretary Caroline Spelman to outline the councils concerns on Monday 9 January.
Arthur wrote: “This council confirms its opposition to any form of incineration of Norfolk’s waste. Key concerns include:
“(1) the effect of emissions on human health and the environment.
“(2) The fact that incineration contracts with private companies create a demand for waste, when the primary objective must be to reduce the amount of it that is produced.”
The council said the project failed the funding criteria because of the lack of two-tier local authority consensus and ability to hit recycling targets.
Richard Burton, managing director of Burton Environmental Consulting, which is working with the council to block the project, said: “One criteria is that schemes should ‘contribute to or complement longer-term national targets for recycling and composting’ and there is also a requirement to demonstrate ‘that there is no future barrier to meeting reduction, reuse and recycling targets.
“However, the most recent predictions from Norfolk County Council show a municipal waste recycling rate of 47% in 2020, below the National Waste Strategy target of 50%.”
Spelman is set to make a decision on whether to release the £169m of withheld PFI credits to the controversial incinerator in Norfolk, which is backed by the county council.
The Eastern Daily Press has reported that a local MP who opposes the facility fears the environment secretary is about to give the green light for the credits to be released.
Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, said: “I am concerned about the content of the announcement. I made the point that people in South West Norfolk do not want the credits to be awarded unless there is a significant change in the proposals.
“I would have liked to have seen Defra working with councils involved to come up with a different solution.
“If the PFI credits are awarded the next stage is the planning process and raising the issue with communities secretary Eric Pickles.”
Spelman withheld the PFI credits to finance the project last November, as exclusively revealed by MRW,