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Defra pulls cash from Norfolk EfW project

Norfolk County Council has lost Defra funding for its controversial £500m energy-from-waste plant near King’s Lynn.

A letter to South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, says: “I am writing to let you know that following a review of the WIC [waste infrastructure credits] allocated to the Norfolk County Council residual waste infrastructure project, ministers have decided to withdraw the award of funding to the project.”

The letter was signed by the former resource minister Lord de Mauley and was dated 18 October, three days after he lost the overall waste brief.

It also said: “The review was prompted by a breach of the terms and conditions under which funding was originally agreed.”

The council was told by Lord de Mauley the “overriding factor” in the decision was that the UK is able to meet EU Landfill Directive targets without the King’s Lynn project going ahead.

He added that Defra had taken into account the costs that could be incurred by the council if the project was not to proceed. He said: “I appreciate this is a decision that will be extremely disappointing to the authority.”

A Defra spokesperson said the breach was because the project “did not achieved a satisfactory planning permission by a particular date”.

She added: “This breach trigged the review of the project by Defra. The review concluded that we will have enough infrastructure to meet the landfill targets, without the Norfolk project.”

The local authority had already scheduled an emergency meeting of the full council for 28 October to discuss the contract.

Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs (Labour), said: “Today’s announcement clearly adds a new dimension to the debate about waste disposal in Norfolk.

“I have instructed officers to report back in time for the full council meeting, which I am glad is taking place, so that we have an informed debate around all the issues. I have always recognised that people on all sides of this debate have sincerely held views that need to be aired as part of this process.

“Nonetheless, the council is still bound by the contract entered into by the previous administration.

“Make no mistake, which ever way you choose to look at it, this is more bad news from this Government for Norfolk taxpayers.”

A contract for the Willows and Recycling Centre at King’s Lynn is part of a 25-year contract signed with Cory Wheelabrator. It has been strongly opposed by local campaign groups and politicians, but had cleared a number of legal challenges.

In May a Norfolk County Council committee warned terminating the contract could cost the authority up to £90m.

Paul Green from Cory Wheelabrator said: “We are disappointed that the Waste Infrastructure Credits have been withdrawn from the Norfolk project. The Consortium will submit a revised project plan to Norfolk County Council in line with its contract.”

Colin Church, director for resource and waste at Defra, tweeted the development, and explained why Lord de Mauley wrote the letter:

Readers' comments (1)

  • DEFRA are either stupid, or simply don't give a damn of the consequences of their actions - possibly both of the above. They are already in receipt of a legal challenge from 2 authorities over late pulling of PFI credits, and they go and do it again. Soon we'll have nobody interested in investing anything in the UK infrastructure sector, as Westminster can simply pull the plug at any time. God helps us !!

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