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Government withdraws funding for west Norfolk incinerator

PUBLISHED: 13:35 18 October 2013 | UPDATED: 17:08 18 October 2013

The proposed site of the incinerator at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt

The proposed site of the incinerator at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

Plans to build an incinerator in west Norfolk have suffered a major blow after the government announced it was withdrawing funding for the project.

Environment minister Lord de Mauley today wrote to South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss with the news.

He wrote: “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.”

Lord de Mauley’s letter to Elizabeth Truss

Lord de Mauley’s letter to George Nobbs

The proposals for the burner at Saddlebow provoked massive opposition in the west of Norfolk.

Earlier this week, council officers warned that if the government rejected the plan, the council would have to pay just over £20m in compensation to Cory Wheelabrator and say the figure could be much higher if, as some councillors want, the council pulls out.

Ms Truss said: “I have always argued that over a hundred million pounds on subsiding a plant that local residents did not want is a poor use of taxpayers money. I am pleased to hear that Defra has listened to these arguments. I call on the county council to now abandon plans for the incinerator and work towards a comprehensive waste policy that commands the support of local residents.”

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Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs said he was disappointed that Defra was withdrawing the waste infrastructure grant worth £169m over 25 years for The Willows waste treatment contract.

The announcement comes just days before an extraordinary meeting of the full council is to be held on Monday, October 28, to debate the future of the contract which the council has signed with Cory Wheelabrator.

The county council was told this morning that the grant was being withdrawn and Cllr Nobbs has now instructed officers to prepare reports on the financial consequences for the authority.

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Campaigners say the battle is not over

Norfolk County Council signs contract with Cory Wheelabrator for King’s Lynn incinerator

He 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.”

West Norfolk council leader Nick Daubney said: “I’m pleased sense has prevailed.

“The conditions set down to secure PFI funding weren’t met and we made our protestations to ministers at the time.

“The biggest poll ever held in this county didn’t support it. The capital city of this county didn’t support it.”

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A Defra spokesperson said: “We are investing over £3.5 billion in waste infrastructure projects to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, promote recycling and stimulate economic growth.

“The amount of waste sent to landfill is at its lowest level while recycling rates have been increasing year on year and are now the highest on record.

“Given that we expect to have sufficient infrastructure in England to enable us to meet the EU target of reducing waste sent to landfill and considering all other relevant factors, the decision has been taken not to fund the Norfolk project.”

The meeting of all members of the county council on October 28 will begin in the Council Chamber at 10am. The council’s cabinet will meet the next day at 9am to consider any issues arising from the previous day’s debate.

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