The Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk has written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, urging him to make the decision on a controversial application to build an incinerator in King’s Lynn.
If Mr Pickles agrees to ‘call in’ the application, which is currently to be determined by Norfolk County Council, it would become subject to a full public inquiry at which all those who have an interest in the matter would have an opportunity to make representations to an independent planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. The whole process would be conducted in public, so anyone could attend.
The letter stresses the need for this independent assessment if the public is to feel confident that the decision has been arrived at objectively. It points out that the relationship between the county council and the applicant (Norfolk County Council is Cory Wheelabrator’s PFI partner), along with the fact that the council would be liable to pay the applicant up to £20.3 million if the application was unsuccessful, may be perceived by the public as compromising Norfolk County Council’s objectivity.
Cllr Nick Daubney, Leader of the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, explained why he felt it necessary to take this step: “The people of West Norfolk have a right to expect that an application of this nature is scrutinised appropriately and that any decision is based upon a rigorous and robust assessment of the proposal.
“The actions of Norfolk County Council leading up to the procurement decision have caused many in West Norfolk to lose confidence in the ability of the county council to make an objective decision on this matter. A public inquiry would give all those interested in the proposals greater assurance that their concerns were being assessed in an objective and open-minded way.”
People are being encouraged to write to the Secretary of State showing their support for this request either by e-mail email@example.com or by post to The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Department for Communities and Local Government, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5DU.
The letter also highlights some of the Borough Council’s objections to the proposal. It notes that locating an incinerator that is designed to serve the whole county, in the western corner of it, contravenes policy guidance stipulating that waste should be disposed of ‘in one of the nearest appropriate installations’.
It also draws attention to the potential impact of the proposed incinerator upon recycling. It is estimated that levels of residual waste produced by the county will fall over the 25-year period covered by the contract between the county council and Cory Wheelabrator (the operator of the proposed plant). The Borough Council believes that this is likely to mean that there will be insufficient residual waste to meet the 170,000 tonnes that the county council has guaranteed to provide. This being case, there would be little incentive to increase recycling rates, something which is contrary to local and national waste management targets.
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